PARIS, June 1, 2019 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff and Croatian Borna Coric enlivened things as the evening wore on, on Saturday at Roland Garros. Their four-hour-22-minute, 4-6, 6-1, 4-6, 7-6(1), 11-9 bonanza kept even the most neutral audiences on the edge of their seats, wanting more despite the match’s ongoing lengthiness. In the end, Struff’s win even obscured his compatriot Alexander Zverev’s five-set victory over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.
But first things first.
The match started off along usual lines of altering momentum as both Struff and Coric kept abreast of each other in each set. However, long after the first four sets were evenly placed, the match began to take an interesting turn. Fatigue was shrugged aside as the non-tie-breaker fifth set forced each player to go the proverbial extra mile. Serves were held and break points were obliterated, and it seemed as though neither player would come short.
The 13th game saw the first break of the set as the 13th seed Coric gained the much-sought-after lead for 7-6. Trying to serve out the match in his following service game, Coric, however, was broken right back for 7-all. The set remained on serve thereafter for the next six games. While Struff grew in confidence thereafter, Coric’s deserted him critically in the 20th game as he found himself down match point after having had a game point to level at 10-all. It was all that was needed for Struff who, courtesy of the win, reached the second week of a Major for the first time in his career.
“This means a lot to me. It was unbelievable today. The atmosphere was world-class,” Struff told Eurosport Germany right after the fight. “It took some time to find into the match and Borna played really well. It’s difficult to sum up everything, as so many things happened during the match. I am just happy to be through.”
The win will propel Struff upwards in the rankings as well. He is expected to surpass his previous career high of #45 in the ATP singles rankings, touching #38 after this result. He will play World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the fourth round.
In the other matches, the seeded players moved ahead into the second week without much fuss. France’s Gael Monfils ended the run of compatriot Antoine Hoang in their third-round match. The 14th seed won 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in two hours.
“I’m happy the way I played today. I was very solid. I’m getting my confidence back. It was great for me to have another straight win for me on the center court, to have a feel. I feel good,” Monfils said.
Monfils will play Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem in the fourth round. The 2018 finalist here saw off Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas in yet another four-setter. After two hours and 36 minutes, Thiem won 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.
“The next match gonna be a tough one. Obviously Dominic is in great form. He’s one of the top three guys, you know, have potential to win the tournament. So facing him in the fourth round won’t be easy, but as I say, I feel good. I’m at home, so anything is possible,” Monfils is looking forward to the encounter.
No. 8 seed Juan Martin Del Potro, a former semi-finalist here in Paris, defeated the last Australian man standing in the main draw, Jordan Thompson. The Tower of Tandil needed two hours and one minute to win 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.
Tenth-seeded Russian Karen Khachanov defeated a visibly-tired Slovakian Martin Klizan in straight sets as well. Khachanov won 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 41 minutes. Klizan led with a break in the second set but it was a brief aberration in an otherwise one-sided match.
Khachanov was the last male player to have won a match on Court No. 1, popularly known as the Bullring. In order to carry out the redevelopment plans at Roland Garros, the court is going to be torn down and will not be used in the 2020 edition. However, doubles, legends and juniors’ matches will be held there up to 5th June.
After the completion of all third-round matches, all the top-10 seeds in the draw have made it safely through to the second week in the French capital this year.