LOS ANGELES • Olympic champion Alexander Zverev admitted he blew the chance to win the Indian Wells tournament after Friday's shock quarter-final defeat by American Taylor Fritz.
The German's loss came after French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas' equally stunning last-eight defeat by another less-heralded player in Nikoloz Basilashvili.
World No. 29 Fritz survived two match points to come from behind and eliminate the third-seeded Zverev 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), while second seed Tsitsipas was shown the door 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 by world No. 36 Basilashvili.
Zverev jumped out to a big lead in the final set and appeared to be heading to victory, before he started to struggle mightily on his second serve.
"This one hurts because I knew that after Stefanos lost this morning, I was kind of the favourite to win this tournament," said Zverev.
"But today was just not really my day, to be honest. I was close to winning, but the level of tennis was just not quite there for me."
He blasted a 217kmh ace to get to match point, but then immediately double faulted and Fritz won the next point to take the game and cut the lead to 5-4.
Crowd favourite Fritz dominated the third-set tiebreaker, clinching the match with a cross-court forehand winner.
"I put myself in a situation to get back into it and I did," said Fritz.
"I just kept fighting and went after my shots and kept playing my game."
Greek Tsitsipas also fell in three sets to the 29th-seeded Georgian Basilashvili, who recorded one of his biggest career wins.
Basilashvili beat Tsitsipas for the first time in three career meetings and recorded his first victory over a world No. 3 player.
He defeated Roger Federer en route to the Doha title in March, when the Swiss great was playing just his second match since a 13-month injury absence.
Leading up to Indian Wells, Basilashvili said he had been working on polishing his serve.
"I am not surprised. I have been playing good tennis for a long time, especially in practices," said the 29-year-old, whose father is a ballet dancer.
"I just didn't have the kind of first serve. It was missing. I had big minus in my serve. I improved my serve a lot lately. That's why I'm in the semis now."
The exits of Zverev and Tsitsipas means Briton Cameron Norrie, the 21st seed, is the top seed left in the final four.
The semi-finals are between the 31st-seeded Fritz and Basilashvili, with Norrie going up against 23rd seed Grigor Dimitrov for a spot in the championship match.
In the women's semi-finals, former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka said she was proud of her fighting spirit in Friday's comeback victory over Latvia's Jelena Ostapenko.
Azarenka, a two-time winner, came back from a set and break down to beat 2017 French Open champion Ostapenko 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.
"I thought the most important (thing) was my fight, that I can be really proud of," she said.
Azarenka will be in today's final against Spain's Paula Badosa, who defeated Tunisian Ons Jabeur - the first Arab to break into the top 10 - 6-3, 6-3.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS
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