PARIS: German second seed Alexander Zverev saved a match point in coming back to defeat Bosnia´s Damir Dzumhur in five sets to reach the French Open fourth round on Friday, while former champion Novak Djokovic made the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the 43rd time.
World number 29 Dzumhur also served for the match in the fourth set, but Zverev clung on and claimed a 6-2, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 victory.
Zverev, 21, who is seen as the main threat to Rafael Nadal´s expected coronation as champion for an 11th time, endured a nightmare outing on Court Philippe Chatrier that lasted almost four hours.
He hit 73 unforced errors, dropped serve eight times and served up seven double faults.
He had to save a match point in the 10th game of the decider before breaking and holding to make the last 16 for the first time where he will face either French 15th seed Lucas Pouille or Russia´s Karen Khachanov.
“It was an amazing, high level match,” said Zverev.
“It was the first time I have won on this court and I hope there are many more to come.”
Zverev, who also had to fight back from two sets to one down in the second round against Serbian Dusan Lajovic, is looking to become the first German man to win the title since 1937.
But he has never reached a Grand Slam quarter-final, although the longer best-of-five format has worked twice in his favour now at Roland Garros.
Djokovic battles through
Djokovic claimed a hard-fought 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 victory over a grieving Roberto Bautista Agut.
The 31-year-old former world number one struggled at times on Suzanne Lenglen court, but eventually came through the four-set battle in three hours and 48 minutes.
Djokovic has now made the last 16 of a Slam for the 43rd time, tying Jimmy Connors on the all-time list, second only to Roger Federer´s tally of 60.
Djokovic, seeded 20 after struggling to find his best form since returning from an elbow injury, will take on Fernando Verdasco for a last-eight place after the Spaniard knocked out fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov.
The Serbian has now made the second week at Roland Garros for the last nine years in a row.
Bautista Agut was playing in Paris despite the death of his mother last week.
“Fours hours for the match, I´m a bit tired, Bautista Agut plays with too much patience for me, but I´m very happy to have won the match,” said Djokovic.
The 34-year-old Verdasco inflicted an early exit on Dimitrov, with the Spaniard winning 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 6-4 in his 350th clay-court match.
Bulgarian Dimitrov, a two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist, has still never reached the second week at Roland Garros in eight attempts.
“You have to draw the line and, you know, look for the next chapter,” said the world number five.
“Also, in tennis you never know one week can always turn things around for you. It´s been proven to work in the past.”
Japan´s Kei Nishikori made short work of home hope Gilles Simon as he cruised into the fourth round for the fifth time.
The 28-year-old, seeded 19 in his first Grand Slam since Wimbledon last year after struggling with a wrist injury, saw off Simon 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.
In the women´s draw, Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki eased past Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier 6-0, 6-3.
The second seed, a quarter-finalist in Paris last year, will face Daria Kasatkina for a place in the last eight after the Russian beat Maria Sakkari 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.
US Open runner-up Madison Keys saw off Japanese 21st seed Naomi Osaka 6-1, 7-6 (9/7), setting up a last-16 tie with 31st seed Mihaela Buzarnescu.
Buzarnescu, a 30-year-old Romanian with a doctorate in sports sciences who had never won a Grand Slam match before this week, downed Ukraine´s fourth seed Elina Svitolina with a shock 6-3, 7-5 victory.