Tennis: Dimitrov dumped by Verdasco in French Open 3rd rd, Svitolina also falls but Zverev squeaks through


Grigor Dimitrov, a two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist, has still never reached the second week at Roland Garros in eight attempts.
Grigor Dimitrov, a two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist, has still never reached the second week at Roland Garros in eight attempts.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP, REUTERS) - Fourth seed Grigor Dimitrov was knocked out of tennis' French Open in the third round by Fernando Verdasco on Friday (June 1), with the Spaniard winning 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-4.

The Bulgarian, a two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist, has still never reached the second week at Roland Garros in eight attempts.

But German second seed Alexander Zverev is through, having saved a match point and survived a second successive scare on Friday, coming back to defeat Bosnia's Damir Dzumhur in five sets to reach the fourth round for the first time.

Elina Svitolina's French Open breakthrough, however, was again put on hold when the Ukrainian fourth seed was knocked out 6-3, 7-5 by Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu.

The 23-year-old Svitolina, who trains at Roland Garros and was a quarter-finalist in 2015 and 2017, had been tipped as one of the potential winners for the second year in a row after winning the Italian Open, but she never found her groove.

World No. 29 Dzumhur had served for the match in the fourth set, but Zverev clung on and battled to 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, 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.

The 34-year-old Verdasco will next face either his compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut or former champion Novak Djokovic for a quarter-final spot.

It is the seventh time the world No. 35 has reached the French Open fourth round, but it is the only Grand Slam tournament where he is yet to make the last eight.

Japan's Kei Nishikori, meanwhile, made short work of home hope Gilles Simon as he cruised into the fourth round for the fifth time.

The 28-year-old, seeded 19th in his first Grand Slam since Wimbledon last year after struggling with injury, saw off Simon 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. He could next face a clash with two-time semi-finalist and seventh seed Dominic Thiem, who plays Italian Matteo Berrettini later in the third round.