Germany’s second seed Alexander Zverev will look to reach the fourth round in Paris for the first time in his career when he takes on Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur on Philippe Chatrier. The German’s struggles at Grand Slam level are well-documented and he is still yet to beat a top 50 player at a Major. Dzumhur, the 26th seed, has never before made the second week at a Slam. Will it be him or Zverev who book their place in the fourth round?
Zverev and Dzumhur have met once previously and surprisingly it was the lower-ranked man who walked away with the win. That match was contested in Shenzhen last year in the quarterfinals. In the blistering heat Zverev, who was struggling for form, wilted in the vital moments against a relentless Dzumhur. Late breaks in both sets gave the Bosnian the win as he reached the semifinals in China a 6-4 7-5 winner.
Path to the third round
Zverev, seeded in the top two at a Slam for the first time in his career, began his Roland Garros campaign in dominant fashion against Ricardas Berankis, crushing the Lithuanian 6-1 6-1 6-2. However, he found things considerably less straight forward against Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic. The German found himself in a five-set scrap, but he was able to finish strongly to win 2-6 7-5 4-6 6-1 6-2, a victory that he may hope marks a turnaround in his Grand Slam fortunes.
Damir Dzumhur also made an impressive start to his French Open, defeating the American Denis Kudla in straight sets 6-4 6-2 6-2. But like Zverev, things became rather tougher for him in the second round. The Bosnian made a good start against Moldova’s Radu Albot, winning the first two sets. But Albot had battled back from two sets down in the first round, and threatened to do so again, levelling the match. But Dzumhur hung tough in the decider to win it 7-5.
How do they match up?
Zverev is amongst the most powerful baseliners on the Tour. His favoured shot is his backhand, which he can hit with power both cross-court and down the line. His forehand can also be a dangerous weapon, but the German cannot rely on it as consistently as his backhand. Zverev will also be aware of the importance of maintaining a high first serve percentage, having won 78% of the points behind his first delivery against Lajovic in the previous round.
Dzumhur doesn’t have the weapons of Zverev, but he is impressively consistent from the back of the court. The Bosnian almost never gives away cheap unforced errors from either his backhand or forehand. He is also a fine mover, and looks comfortable on the clay. However, he may feel the need to press the envelope more against Zverev than he does against most, as he will not want to allow the German to get into a rhythm.
Although Dzumhur won their only previous match, he won't be able to pull off a repeat against Zverev this time. He doesn’t have the weapons to consistently hit through the German, particularly on a slow clay court. Though Dzumhur will battle hard as he always does, it's hard to see how he can answer Zverev’s power without more of his own. Expect the world #3 to reach the second week in Paris for the first time in his career in straight sets.