Alexander Zverev seemed to be cruising until Robin Haase wrested control of their second-round match at the Cincinnati Masters to win in three sets.
The Dutchman ran out a 5-7 6-4 7-5 victor to win his second straight match over Zverev, who is yet to clear his opening-round hurdle in Cincinnati in four attempts.
Third-seeded Zverev was the biggest name to depart the men’s tournament on Wednesday; fellow seeds Novak Djokovic, Marin Cilic and David Goffin were all stretched to three sets yet managed to cement their spots in the last 16.
Seventh seed Cilic battled to a 6-7(4) 6-4 6-4 win over Romanian qualifier Marius Copil while No.11 seed Goffin bounced back to beat Benoit Paire 5-7 6-4 6-2.
Wimbledon champion Djokovic, who was battling an upset stomach, saw off Adrian Mannarino 4-6 6-2 6-1.
”I really want to win this tournament,” said Djokovic, who needs the Cincinnati title to become the first man to win all nine ATP Masters tournaments throughout his career.
“I definitely need to play better than I have in the first couple of matches.’ I know from experience it (form) might come very quickly. So I’m hoping for that.”
Zverev last week in the Toronto semifinals led Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 5-2 before losing. While his lead was not so great today, he began brightly before Haase reeled him in.
In a high-quality affair, Zverev built a 4-1 lead with a leaping crosscourt forehand winner and looked to be cruising in the first match of the day on Centre Court.
Yet Haase, gritty, consistent and athletic, worked his way into the contest and made it a physical battle.
The 31-year-old saved a break point when serving for the match and closed out an eighth victory in 2018 during which he had dropped the first set.
“We’ve played four times now,” Haase said. “The first time he literally kicked my ass (in Hamburg 2014). That was the tournament where he actually came up. And, yeah, since then he’s come a long way.
“And now I was there twice physically, mentally and game-wise I was there. And we have to be a little bit lucky, as well, against these top guys.”
Next up for Haase is 13th seed Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain.
Also winning through to the last 16 on Thursday were former world No.3 Milos Raonic and sixth seed Kevin Anderson.
Later on Wednesday, Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov scored straight-sets wins as both attempt to work their way back into top form.
Dimitrov, who has reached just one ATP quarterfinal since April, saw off Mischa Zverev 7-6(5) 7-5 to set up a third-round meeting with Djokovic.
Dimitrov is the defending champion in Cincinnati and world No.5, yet currently sits at 14th in the ATP Race to London.
Wawrinka, continuing his comeback from a knee injury, got the better of former world No.4 Kei Nishikori, storming back from an early deficit to win 6-4 6-4.
Stan DELIVERS ????
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) August 16, 2018
The three-time Grand Slam champion has won four of his past five matches on North American hard courts, notching wins over Nick Kyrgios and Diego Schwartzman in addition to his triumph over Nishikori.
He’ll play Marton Fucsovics for a place in the quarterfinals, a player he beat just last week en route to the last 16 in Toronto.
“I’m really happy with the match, with the level. I think from 1-4 down I started to play really well, moving well, changing a lot of rhythm, being really aggressive, playing the right game,” he said in comments reported on atpworldtour.com.
“For sure one of the great matches I played, so I’m happy with the level and to have one more win here.
“I feel [my game] is getting there. I was feeling great on the court. I need to just be patient with myself, to accept things that are happening and by doing that, I know that I will get there.”
18 December 2017
Let's say Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are both in the prime of their careers, and the... More
7 December 2017
After calling time on his 2017 season with an elbow injury in July, Novak Djokovic is look... More
24 July 2019
Back on clay for the first time since losing the French Open final to Rafael Nadal, Domini... More