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By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, September 2, 2019

NEW YORK—The service box loomed as large as a mail box and Alexander Zverev struggled to find the right slot.

Diego Schwartzman exploited 17 double faults from Zverev showing the sixth seed the door, 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-3, advancing to his second US Open quarterfinal in the last three years.

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The 5'7" Schwartzman, the shortest man still standing in the field, ravaged the 6'6" German's second serve winning 32 of 47 points played on Zverev's second serve and benefitting from more than four games worth of double faults.

The victory vaults the 20th-seeded Schwartzman scored his sixth career Top 10 victory with three of those wins coming this season.

It is Schwartzman's third career Grand Slam quarterfinal. The feisty baseliner, a popular presence in New York, converted eight of 18 break-point chances racing into a match with either three-time champion Rafael Nadal or 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic.

Schwartzman has a habit of coming up big in major matches against towering opponents.

Two years ago, Schwartzman downsize Cilic en route to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal in Flushing Meadows. Last year, Schwartzman stormed back from two sets down toppling 6'8" Kevin Anderson to advance to the Roland Garros quarterfinals.

The horror show that is Zverev's second serve continues.

The man who dropped service bombs in excess of 135 mph powering past Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in succession to collect his biggest career title at the ATP Finals in London last November, continues to struggle with control and confidence on ihs second serve. Zverev averaged nearly 11 double faults a match in Flushing Meadows after falling to Jiri Vesely in the Wimbledon first round. 

Today, Zverev sometimes hit flat second serves that sailed beyond the service line and other times decelerated his swing and slapped second serves slower than 70 mph into the net.

"My first serve is still fine," Zverev said. "My second serve needs to be worked on. But I'll deal with it."

Zverev has failed to survive the fourth round in five career US Open appearances. His highly-hyped partnership with Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl fizzled.

Former No. 1 Lendl and Zverev parted company in July with the German raising eyebrows questioning Lendl’s work ethic and focus.

“Sometimes we go on the practice court," Zverev told the media in Hamburg. "The training is over two hours. And for half an hour he stands with his back to me and tells me about his round of golf.”

There have been positives, too. Zverev reached his second straight Roland Garros quarterfinal, but he managed just two grass-court wins in three tournaments and has suffered six opening-round exits this season.

Still, Zverev battled into the fourth round after a 20-double fault debacle in Cincinnati. Now, he's aiming to regain control of his service toss and take the positives from his best US Open result.

"I mean, it's been a much better week for me than it's been in the last few months," Zverev said. "Yeah, I can take positives out of that. I mean, obviously it was difficult conditions for me. It was very slow out there.

"The court was playing very low and very slow. Actually the opposite of what would be preferred for me. But, you know, credit to him. He played a great match. I thought he was playing very aggressive. You know, he's playing well."


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