Laaksonen stuns Agut; Nishikori outlasts Khachanov in five-setter
Down 4-1 in the third set, Alexander Zverev decided it was time to shorten his match at Roland Garros.
He was determined to avoid another lengthy fight following a five-set battle in the previous round, so he applied pressure on qualifier Roman Safiullin.
The sixth-seeded German won the next game at love, broke back by pushing his rival into unforced errors and was nearly flawless in the tiebreaker.
The reward was a 7-6(4), 6-3, 7-6(1) victory to advance into the third round at the French Open.
Zverev, facing a rival he has known since their days in the boys’ categories, dropped his serve three times on Court Suzanne Lenglen but managed to catch up with Safiullin with his fighting spirit.
It wasn’t smooth — he hit 10 double faults and challenged several calls — but he kept his cool when it mattered. For the third straight year, Stefanos Tsitsipas will be playing in the third round at Roland Garros following another straight-set win Wednesday.
The fifth-seeded Greek player excelled at the net and saved 11 break points to defeat solid baseliner Pedro Martinez of Spain 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
Kei Nishikori needed five sets again to win at the French Open.
The former U.S. Open finalist rallied past 23rd-seeded Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
Nishikori next faces Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen, who upset 11th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 for his first victory against a top-20 player.
Easy for Djokovic
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic kicked off his bid for a 19th Grand Slam title with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win over Tennys Sandgren inside an empty stadium.
In the women’s draw, 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova reached the third round with a 6-1, 6-3 win over wild card Harmony Tan.
Divij, Ankita pairs lose
Divij Sharan and Federico Delbonis of Argentina lost to the Australian pair of Matt Reed and Alex De Minaur 6-3, 6-7(11), 4-6 in a men’s doubles first round contest.
There was disappointment for Ankita Raina too as she and her American partner Lauren Davis fell to the 10th-seeded Czech-German combination of Lucie Hradecka and Laura Siegemund 4-6, 4-6.
The new doubles partnership of Venus Williams and Coco Gauff didn’t go very far at the French Open.
The 40-year-old Williams and 17-year-old Gauff lost to 13th-seeded Ellen Perez and Zheng Saisai 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3 in the first round.
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