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By Marco Madonia | Friday, October 23, 2020

 
Diego Schwartzman

Diego Schwartzman rallied from a 2-6, 2-5 deficit defeating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to reach his third straight semifinal in Cologne.

Photo credit: Bett1HULKS

Quarterfinal Friday was a crazy comeback day in Cologne.

Staring down a 2-6, 2-5 deficit, Diego Schwartzman saved a match point storming back to break Alejandro Davidovich Fokina’s heart, 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-1.

Watch: Irate Khachanov Freaks Out

Schwartzman battled into his fifth semifinal of the season and third in a row following his upset of Rafael Nadal en route to the Rome final and his loss to Nadal in the Roland Garros semifinals.

Seemingly down and out, Schwartzman’s return game gave him new life: he converted eight of 15 break points.




It’s an agonizing loss for the 21-year-old Spaniard who was bidding for his second straight semifinal. Davidovich Fokina served for the match three times in the second set and held match point at 5-2, but missed a backhand crosscourt and could not close.

The second-seeded Schwartzman took that slight opening and ran with it earning his 11th victory in his last 13 matches.

“Tennis sometimes is crazy,” said Schwartzman afterward. “Maybe today I got lucky to be here answering questions. But that is why I am here as well with this ranking, because I am always trying to find a way to win the matches. Today was not the exception to the rule.

“I was trying really hard, but obviously he is a great player and the first two sets I was just on court trying to do something but there was no chance. He was playing perfect and the first two sets he deserved to win, for sure.”

The world No. 9 continues his chase to try to lock down a spot in next month’s ATP Finals in London.

Next up for Schwartzman is a semifinal date with Cologne-1 finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Top-seeded Alexander Zverev survived a scare—and an apparent left leg or hip issue—taming Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-4 to advance to his fourth semifinal of the season.

Zverev overcame nine double faults, including successive double faults when he served for the semifinals, scoring his sixth straight Cologne win.




On Sunday, Zverev swept Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-3 collecting his 12th career title at Cologne-1.

Today, the US Open finalist failed to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second set.

Holding for 6-5, Zverev took treatment for an apparent left hip or leg issue. Mannarino was the aggressor throughout a dynamic tiebreaker.

The left-hander carved out a forehand drop shot then cranked an ace for a 5-2 tie breaker lead. Mannarino leveled to force the final set.

This match was a rematch of the US Open third round which Zverev won in four sets. Pushed to a final set today, it briefly seemed Zverev might pull the plug after a heavy workload the last week.




Digging in, Zverev fought through the final set breaking for 4-3 then stamping a love hold to consolidate. Spitting up a couple of double faults when he served for the match again, Zverev shut guts sticking a forehand off the baseline then hammering a backhand down the line to close in two hours, forty minutes.

The 23-year-old German will need to recover quickly for tomorrow’s semifinal against Jannik Sinner, the man who knocked him out of Roland Garros.

The 19-year-old Sinner surrendered eight straight games yet still subdued Gilles Simon 6-3, 0-6, 6-4 in a wild win.

Sinner streaked through a love hold in 41 seconds—his fourth straight game—for 4-1.

Up 4-2 Sinner lost the grip on a smash, saw his Head racquet fly out of his hands and headed the ball over net.




Sinner nudged an exquisite backhand half volley winner nailed down a nine-minute hold that saw him save break points for 5-2. Sinner spun a slider serve out wide to seal a one-set lead.

The veteran Simon elevated his game and countered everything the teenager threw at him rolling through eight straight games. Simon dispensed a bagel in the second set and was up 2-0 in the third before Sinner flipped the script again.

Tennis Express

The final set started with Simon dodging a break point working through a challenging nine-minute hold---his seventh straight game.

Sinner broke back in the third game and rocketed a forehand winner crosscourt breaking at love for a 4-3 lead he never relinquished

Felix Fights on

The quest for a first ATP title continues for Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime. The 20-year-old powered into the semifinals with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan. Auger-Aliassime leads the ATP in indoor wins with 14 in 2020, and will face Schwartzman in the semis for a shot in his seventh career final, and fourth of 2020.

Auger-Aliassime dropped to 0-6 lifetime in finals last Sunday when he was toppled by Zverev for the title in Cologne.


 

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