Zverev Escapes In Rome To Extend Winning Streak
His service-holds streak was snapped but Alexander Zverev stretched his most important markers on Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.
The second seed and defending champion advanced to his fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final of the season, beating top Brit Kyle Edmund 7-5, 7-6(11) in front of a capacity crowd on Court Pietrangeli.
Zverev, who has now won 22 consecutive sets and 11 straight matches, improved to 3-0 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Edmund, who had reached his maiden Masters 1000 quarter-final last week at the Mutua Madrid Open on clay and celebrated his debut inside the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings (No. 19). But the German did just enough to return to the Rome quarter-finals.
“I'm just happy that I found a way in both sets, at the end of the sets, and I'm through in two sets. Being able to play another quarter-final of a Masters  event is great,” Zverev said.
The 21-year-old broke in the opening game but was broken in the 10th game, while trying to serve out the set, to see his service-holds streak stop at 65. He regrouped, though, to take the opening set.
The two traded breaks again in the second, and it looked as if Edmund, hitting a heavy forehand, especially against Zverev's second serve, would even the match when the Brit saw a set point on Zverev's serve at 5-4.
“His forehand is massive. He's very powerful. He's not scared to go for it,” Zverev said.
But the German's steady backhand and big-match experience of late helped him come back, again, only to face more danger in the 23-point tie-break. Zverev saw seven match points come and go from 6/3, 8/7, 9/8, 10/9, 11/10, but on his eighth opportunity, he pumped his arms with joy after Edmund sailed a forehand wide.
“I think Kyle has improved a lot since the last 18 months. He's improved his backhand a lot, improved his groundstrokes a lot. So it was not easy,” Zverev said. “Every short ball that he gets, he's trying to go for it, and he's not missing much.”
He will next meet No. 10 David Goffin, who advanced to his second Masters 1000 quarter-final of the season (Monte-Carlo) when No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro retired down 2-6, 5-4 because of a groin injury.
Del Potro received treatment for the injury during his 1-1 service game in the second set. The Argentine fought through the pain, playing aggressively from both wings. He even served for the second set at 5-3 before calling it quits in the ninth game.
Goffin was striking the ball cleanly, though, especially in the first set, when he broke Del Potro twice to take the opener. The Belgian reached his third Rome quarter-final (2015, 2016).
“I started the match really well... I played a really good tactic, making him run a lot from both sides. Going to his forehand on the right shot and staying on his backhand,” Goffin said.
“When he came back, he started to play well... And he can be really dangerous when he's like that. I have seen so many matches when he did the same. Always he looks like tired, but he's not. And he's really dangerous in that case.”