NEW YORK • Alexander Zverev lashed out at Martina Navratilova after the 18-time Grand Slam champion said he at times played "pat-a-cake" tennis during his victory over Borna Coric in the quarter-finals of the US Open on Tuesday.
The fifth seed was a set and 4-2 down in his contest against the Croatian before prevailing 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 in 3hr 25min to reach his second Grand Slam semi-final of the year.
The 23-year-old bristled when he was told that Navratilova said, while commenting on TV, that he would never win a Grand Slam playing the way he had.
"Maybe she should look at my record against the big guys," said the German, who plays Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta in the last four.
"Maybe she should look that I'm positive against Roger (Federer).
"Maybe she should look that I've beaten Novak (Djokovic) on multiple occasions in big matches and finals. And I'm in the semi-finals, and sometimes not playing your best and finding a way is more important than playing your best.
"But she's a Grand Slam champion, as well, multiple Grand Slam champion, she's respected, but her opinion right now does not matter to me."
Zverev has two wins in five meetings against world No. 1 Djokovic, including the 2018 ATP Finals title decider. He leads his head-to-head meetings against 20-time Major champion Federer 4-3.
Navratilova clarified that her comment had been about how passive "Sasha", who failed to get past the quarter-finals at a Major in his first 18 attempts, had been during his slow start.
"Nothing like posing a question in press conference without context," she posted on Twitter.
"I said Sasha needs to play like he did in the 4th set, not the way he played the 1st 2 sets. It's that simple. But yeah, nice journalism, whoever asked the question. I would have answered the same way Sasha did."
Japan's Naomi Osaka remained on course to win a third Major title after sweeping aside unseeded Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-4 to set up a match with Jennifer Brady for a place in Saturday's final. The 2018 US Open champion said her victory was payback for three previous defeats by the 93rd-ranked Rogers.
"Honestly, I just felt like she had the upper hand because I've never beaten her," said the fourth seed. "And those memories are stuck in my head so I consider this a little bit of revenge."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE