Taylor Fritz knocks out Alexander Zverev to join Tommy Paul in Wimbledon quarter-finals

WIMBLEDON, England — Tommy Paul arrived at the All England Club at 9:15 a.m. Sunday, only to wait hours for the rain that had drenched Wimbledon for days to stop. He warmed up for about 10 minutes before settling into the plush locker room to spend hours playing putt.

When it finally came time to play, Paul was relaxed. He defeated Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in straight sets — and then another wait began. The 27-year-old 12th seed Paul had done his part to secure a spot in the quarterfinals. He would have to wait another day for his close friend Taylor Fritz, 26, to do his part to end a long drought for the Americans.

Thirteenth-seeded Fritz beat fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-7 (7-4), 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 on Monday to ensure multiple American men will be in the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time since 2000, when Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Jan-Michael Gamble reached the last four. Fritz and Paul join surprise women’s quarterfinalist Emma Navarro, seeded 19, as the last Americans standing.

Fritz pulled off one of the most impressive Grand Slam victories of his career by coming from two sets down against Zverev, who reached the French Open final last month. The big-hitting German had not dropped a set in the first three rounds of Wimbledon and was playing so well that he had not lost a single service game. He had not faced a break point since the first round.

Zverev easily won the first two sets. But Fritz, who won a warm-up tournament on grass before Wimbledon, felt he was playing too well to give in. He retreated to Zverev’s serve and gave himself more time to hit exactly the shots he wanted.

Fritz eventually broke Zverev’s serve in the third set – just once. But in a match that featured big serves and short points, it was enough to impose his authority.

“Once we started getting into the huddles, I felt like I was playing as well as I could,” Fritz said.

Zverev didn’t feel the same way about his performance. The 27-year-old suffered a serious injury in his third-round match against Cameron Norrie, suffering what he called a bone bruise and a torn capsule in his left knee. He wore a protective sleeve throughout Monday’s match.

“I was on one leg today. He’s playing great… but I also know that the match wasn’t at a high level. I mean it wasn’t particularly great tennis… there weren’t really long rallies, because I couldn’t play long rallies,” Zverev said.

Zverev had another complaint at the net after the match, when he told Fritz that he felt some fans in his box were being disrespectfully loud, especially since Zverev was having difficulty moving.

“Taylor and I, we grew up together, we played against each other since we were young. I think it was obvious that I wasn’t at my best today, right?” Zverev said when asked about the exchange. “… His team is very respectful. I think his coach, his physiotherapist, his second coach, they’re very respectful. There are some other people who are maybe on the court who aren’t from tennis, who maybe don’t watch every match. They were a little bit over the top. It’s okay. No problems. No drama.”

Fritz’s win ended a personal drought: Monday was his first victory over Zverev in three attempts at a Grand Slam tournament. The two had met twice before at Wimbledon.

The Californian advances to face 25th seed Lorenzo Muzzetti, one of two Italians left in the semi-finals along with top seed Jannik Sinner. Paul, who also won a grass-court tournament before Wimbledon, has a crucial match against third seed Carlos Alcaraz on Court 1 on Tuesday.

Paul hit 11 aces in his win over Bautista Agut on Sunday and hopes the early tennis will help him as much as it did Fritz on Monday.

“Serving and returning are important to me,” Paul said of Alcaraz. “We both play a very aggressive style of tennis. He’s been playing very well and very aggressive. It’s fun for people to watch. Honestly, it’s fun to play against him.”

Second seed Novak Djokovic advanced to the fourth round in another match on Monday, beating 15th seed Holger Rune 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to reach his 60th Grand Slam quarterfinal. On Wednesday, Djokovic will face ninth seed Alex de Minaur, who beat Arthur Fils 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

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