The first game of Wednesday at the MercedesCup at Stuttgart’s Weissenhof saw veteran Mischa Zverev cruise into the quarter final.
The current number 31 in the world advanced past fellow countryman Yannick Hanfmann 7-6(1), 6-2. Zverev got off to a great start with an early break, but Hanfmann – who successfully made his way through qualification and past Hungarian qualifier Marton Fucsovics in the first round – got the re-break in time to force a tie-break. There, Zverev rolled over his younger opponent to take the tie-break 7-1. Hanfmann’s resistance was broken and Zverev got two breaks in the second set, with the second break simultaneously meaning the set- and match-win.
In the quarter final Zverev will face Tommy Haas (GER) who beat Roger Federer (SUI) 2-6, 7-6(8), 6-4. About Hanfmann, Zverev had this to say: “Coming into the match, I knew he was a good player. He’s tall, he can serve well and come to the net. From the tie-break on it was a bit easier, even though I had to fend off some break points in the second set.” Compared to last year, Zverev wants to play better on grass: “Last year I was only able to win one match. To play on grass is mentally tough. But I’ve got a positive attitude and want to win as many matches as possible this time.”
Things were much tougher for Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second match of the day. The 33-year old from Augsburg had to fight over three close sets to eliminate the 6 years younger American Steve Johnson (ATP 25) from the tournament. Kohlschreiber managed to snatch the first set 7-6(3) in the tie-break, but Johnson became ever more comfortable with his own serve in the second set, quite contrary to Kohlschreiber who already had to fend off two straight break balls at 4-4. At 5-5 the American got the break and went on to serve out the set.
The third set was seemingly decided right at the start as Johnson got the break and never looked back until he had a 4-3 lead. Then, with a double fault, he gave Kohlschreiber the re-break and brought the German back into the match. After that, it was a see-saw battle. Kohlschreiber took the 5-4 lead with his own serve, but missed a match ball when Johnson served. Finally, the match had to be decided in the tie-break. There, Kohlschreiber again couldn’t convert three consecutive match points at 6-3, but finally closed the match by converting his fifth match point to take the set 8-6 in the tie-break.
After the match, Kohlschreiber had to take a deep breath: „It’s nice to make such a comeback in the third set. There were similar matches this season where I would leave the court as the loser.” About opponent Steve Johnson: “There were nearly no rallys to find your rhythm. I was lucky that he then made two double faults to let me back into the match.” In the final match of the day Lucas Pouille (FRA/4) beat German Jan-Lennard Struff in three sets 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(8) after converting his fifth match point to advance to the quarterfinal where he will meet Kohlschreiber.