Taylor Fritz banishes Centre Court ghosts with victory over Alexander Zverev

Taylor Fritz came from two sets down to beat Alexander Zverev and bury the memory of his last match on Centre Court.

American 13th seed Fritz sealed his place in the Wimbledon quarter-finals with an epic 4-6 6-7 (4) 6-4 7-6 (3) 6-3 victory in three hours and 29 minutes.

The last time Fritz played on Centre Court, in 2022, he came out on the wrong side of a five-set quarter-final against Rafael Nadal.

It was a defeat that left Fritz in tears for weeks afterwards, but it also turned out to be Nadal’s last appearance in SW19, as such was the intensity of the match the Spaniard aggravated an injury which forced him to withdraw from the semi-final.

Taylor Fritz celebrates
Taylor Fritz won in just under two-and-a-half hours (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Fritz should have feared more heartbreak when he slipped two sets behind to fourth seed Zverev, a player who had yet to drop his serve all week.

But the 26-year-old refused to lie down and somehow dug deep to conjure up a famous victory.

“It was amazing to do that on Centre Court, being two sets down is like, it’s a dream,” he said.

“The thing was I feel like I was still playing really well, I thought it sucked to be playing this well and lose in three straight, so I took it one set at a time.

“It was just a couple of points either way so I felt I could take it one set at a time and turn it around.”

Zverev was wearing a knee support having suffered a heavy fall during his third-round win over Cameron Norrie.

But on the server’s paradise that is Centre Court with the roof closed, long rallies were never going to be an issue as long as he kept booming down 135mph missiles.

In fact, the break point that Fritz forced early in the third set was the first Zverev had faced since last Tuesday.

That was quickly snuffed out, but when Fritz fashioned two more at 4-4, a Zverev double-fault finally gave the world number 12 a way back into the match.

It proved to be the turning point as the fourth set tie-break went Fritz’s way and then he broke early in the decider before celebrating match point, wide-eyed with his arms outstretched.

Zverev admitted he was hampered by the knee injury throughout the match.

He said: “I think it was fairly obvious that I wasn’t 100 per cent today, right? Towards the end, I mean, I thought from the fourth and fifth set, I was really struggling to serve, as well, to jump off on my leg, to create some power.”

Alexander Zverev and Taylor Fritz speak at the net
The players had a long exchange at the net (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

The pair had a long conversation at the net afterwards, with Zverev unimpressed by the antics of some of Fritz’s entourage in the player’s box.

“His team is extremely respectful,” added Zverev. “I think there’s some other people that maybe are in the box that are not maybe from the tennis world, that are not maybe from particularly watching every single match. They were a bit over the top.

“But no issues with Taylor. I think Taylor is a great guy. I have absolutely no issues with him.”

Fritz, who will next face Italian 25th seed Lorenzo Musetti, added: “He’s totally allowed to be annoyed if they were being annoying. I don’t know. That’s one of the things I asked him at the net, who was it?

“It’s not a big thing. It’s all good.”

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