Zverev stumbles out, Tsonga on the brink

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Alexander Zverev's stock has been rising this year but the promising talent hit a Fernando Verdasco-shaped stumbling block at the French Open, with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also facing an early exit.

A tough opening draw for Zverev pitted him against the experienced Verdasco and he fell to a 6-4 3-6 6-4 6-2 defeat in a match that began on Monday and was suspended due to bad light.

Tsonga's encounter with world number 91 Renzo Olivo was interrupted for the same reason on Tuesday, but the Frenchman will be serving to stay in the match when he returns, trailing 7-5 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 4-5.

Andy Murray was not entirely convincing as he defeated Andrey Kuznetsov 6-4 4-6 6-2 6-0, while Stan Wawrinka overcame a slight wobble to beat Jozef Kovalik 6-2 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

Gael Monfils, Nick Kyrgios, Kei Nishikori and Tomas Berdych were among the other seeded winners on day three, the Frenchman's victory the 400th of his career.

THE RISE AND FALL OF ZVEREV

Beating Novak Djokovic for the Rome title had vaulted Zverev into the top 10 of the world and among the favourites for the title this fortnight.

However, the 20-year-old was left licking his wounds after going down in four sets to veteran Spaniard Verdasco, in a game that straddled Monday and Tuesday.

He may still be young, but there was no doubting in Zverev's mind what was to blame for his defeat.

"I played absolute s*** [and that's what] made the difference. It's quite simple," was his blunt assessment.

TSONGA GETS LONGER TO SAVE HIMSELF

An error-strewn display put Tsonga on the brink of an exit in front of a partisan home crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier.

The Frenchman dropped the opening two sets and let a 4-2 lead in the third get away from him before coming out on top in a tie-break by converting set point at the fourth attempt.

As the light faded the drama increased and Olivo recovered and looked sure to complete the win when he opened up a 5-2 advantage in the fourth.

However, the Argentine was unable to serve out the set and Tsonga secured a crucial break before the pair opted to wait until Wednesday to bring a thrilling encounter to its conclusion.

MURRAY AND WAWRINKA MUDDLE THROUGH

World number one Murray and 2015 champion Wawrinka will meet in the semi-finals if both men get there and each began their 2017 campaign with a topsy-turvy victory.

Wawrinka bookended one sloppy set with two polished ones in beating Slovakian outsider Kovalik, while Murray shrugged off a poor clay season to date by beating Kuznetsov.

The Swiss number one saved three set points before taking a second-set tie-break and hopes to take momentum from that save - in which he rattled off five straight points to move 2-0 up - through the tournament.

"You just have to go along with the flow," Wawrinka, who takes on Alexandr Dolgopolov next, said. "And generally, if you win, the more you win, the better it gets."

Murray will be frustrated by having let a set in which he broke his opponent twice slip through his fingers, but dropping just two of the final 14 games ensured he heads into a match against Martin Klizan on a positive note.

 

DEL POTRO MAKES WINNING RETURN

June 5 2012 - Roger Federer fights back from two sets down to beat Juan Martin del Potro in an epic quarter-final.

Though he struggled with a knee injury, Del Potro surely wouldn't have thought that it would be five years until he returned to Roland Garros to play. The wrist injuries that have skewered the Argentine's career are well documented, but shoulder and back problems had threatened to hamper him on his Parisian comeback.

But there was no sign of struggle as Del Potro eased past his compatriot Guido Pella 6-2 6-1- 6-4.

"My backhand is getting better, but I wish I could have done things I was able to do a few years ago. So sometimes it creates a little bit of frustration," said the 28-year-old.

"I have adopted a wait-and-see attitude. We'll see. I try not to make things too complicated, and I try not to set long-term objectives. I just play match by match."