Zverev slips past Murray
Women’s top seeds ousted in Indian Wells
Published: Oct 13, 2021 04:38 PM
Alexander Zverev returns the ball during a tennis match on Tuesday in Indian Wells, California. Photo: VCG

Alexander Zverev returns the ball during a tennis match on Tuesday in Indian Wells, California. Photo: VCG

Alexander Zverev won the clash of the two most recent Olympic gold medalists at the ATP Indian Wells on Tuesday, holding off a fierce challenge from Andy Murray despite an equipment malfunction.

The 24-year-old German advanced to the fourth round, coming from behind in both sets to beat two time Olympic gold medal winner Murray 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) in the combined women's and men's tennis tournament in the ­California desert.

"I'm happy about the match, how everything went," said Zverev. "I think it was a very entertaining match. It was pretty high level."

Zverev won the Olympic gold medal at the recent Tokyo Games and former world No.1 Murray won gold at both the 2012 London Olympics and in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro.

Third-seeded Zverev moves on to play Gael Monfils of France who rolled over hard-hitting South African Kevin Anderson 7-5, 6-2.

"You got to enjoy what you're doing. You got to enjoy being out on the court. You got to enjoy playing tennis," Zverev said. "After Wimbledon I really enjoyed every second that I was on court."

'Best in a while'

Zverev has now recorded wins against three-time Grand Slam champion Murray, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal, who were known as the "Big Four" of men's ­tennis until injury problems took their toll on Murray.

"This is physically the best I've felt in a while, but I'm sort of battling my game a little bit," Murray said.

"The consistency isn't there and the decision making is not great in the important moments."

Murray tossed his racquet several times Tuesday after missing easy shots. The outbursts were in contrast to Zverev, who maintained his concentration in the seventh game of the second set when the laces on his left shoe snapped.

He continued to play with the wobbly shoe but then had to take an extra long break between games so he could swap out the laces. Murray seized the ­opportunity for a bathroom break.

Zverev then won three of the next five games which set up the tiebreaker.

Zverev went up 3-0 in the second set tiebreaker, but Murray fought back to get to 4-5 before Zverev finished him off at the net.

"I'm disappointed because I ­obviously want to be winning these matches," Murray said. "I haven't in the last few months. Something needs to change."

In the night match, second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece came from behind to defeat Italian veteran Fabio Fognini 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round.

Tsitsipas will next face Australia's Alex de Minaur, who defeated Chile's Cristian Garin in straight sets 6-4, 6-2.

The 23-year-old Tsitsipas was runner-up in the French Open this year becoming the first Greek Grand Slam finalist ever. 

In the WTA side of the draw, unseeded Shelby Rogers upset US Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez in a marathon three-setter on a day when more top seeds tumbled out.

Rogers outlasted Canadian teenager Fernandez 2-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) in two hours and 34 minutes to reach the quarterfinals.

"It was a matter of who was able to dictate the points," Rogers said. "Who could get control of the points first. 

"She has a bright future. Luck was on my side today, and I look forward to the quarterfinals."

Shelby Rogers serves against Leylah Fernandez on Tuesday. Photo: VCG

Shelby Rogers serves against Leylah Fernandez on Tuesday. Photo: VCG

Rogers moves on to play 24th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko, who upset second seed Iga Swiatek of Poland in straight sets.

After they split the first two sets, Rogers hit a backhand winner to break a 4-4 deadlock in the tiebreaker then won the next two points to clinch the match. 

The 23rd-seeded Fernandez held serve in a lengthy 12th game of the third set to set up the tiebreaker. She saw off one match point and then got a lucky bounce off the net cord to get the advantage. Fernandez went on to win the game on the next point when Rogers hit a backhand into the net.

Swiatek became another top seed casualty, losing in straight sets 6-4, 6-3 to Latvia's Ostapenko in a fourth round match. Swiatek's ouster comes one day after No.1 seed Karolina Pliskova and defending champion Bianca Andreescu were bundled out of the tournament in their third round matches.

Canadian Andreescu's elimination means there will be no repeat champion in Indian Wells. 

Swiatek's exit, combined with fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina's crushing 6-1, 6-1 defeat to American Jessica Pegula, and No.3 Barbora Krejcikova's 6-1, 7-5 loss to Paula Badosa, leaves 10th-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany as the top seed left in the draw.

Reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu was eliminated earlier in her first match of the tournament.

The combined WTA and ATP event is normally held in Indian Wells in March but returned this fall after a two-and-a-half-year hiatus due to the global coronavirus pandemic. There was no tournament in 2020 and the 2021 event was delayed to this month. 

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