Top half of French Open even more up for grabs with Zverev loss

With Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both in the bottom half of the French Open draw, the other spot in next Sunday’s final appears to be totally up for grabs. One of the top contenders for that spot was recent Rome champion Alexander Zverev.

But Zverev is a contender no more.

Dealt a tough opener against Fernando Verdasco, the 20-year-old German lost the darkness-delayed showdown 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 on Tuesday afternoon. The two competitors split sets on Monday night before being forced to stop amidst the dying light, thus pushed to a virtual best-of-three battle about 16 hours later. Zverev seized a quick break in the third set, but it was all downhill from there and he eventually bowed out after two hours and 52 minutes across the two days.

“I played absolute shit made the difference,” the world No. 10 said when asked what made the difference against Verdasco. “It’s quite simple.

“[Verdasco] played very well. He played very smart, as well; tried to push me back a lot, which he did. And I didn’t feel the ball on my racket very well, so I played very short and very defensive all the time–which with my game and with my body, it’s not easy to do.”

Top seed and 2016 runner-up Andy Murray, on the other hand, took care of business in his first-rounder on Tuesday and may be considered the favorite in the top half to make a return trip to the final–especially now that Zverev is out. Check the online tennis odds for the French Open.

“It was a decent start, considering obviously how I played in the buildup,” Murray commented following his 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-0 defeat of Andrey Kuznetsov. “It was good towards the end. It was better. I still think I can do some things a bit better than I did today obviously. I will try to keep that going. I was just trying to get through the match today.”

It will not get any easier for the world No. 1, who could run into Juan Martin Del Potro as early as round three. Del Potro advanced to the last 64 in even more routine fashion, dominating an all-Argentine affair with Guido Pella 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 early on Tuesday.

“I can say my level is high after my return, because I have a high ranking after my comeback,” the 2009 U.S. Open champion assessed. “I’m top 30 in the world. I won the first round [of a] Grand Slam after (missing the French Open the last) five years, and I already made quarterfinals in a Masters 1000 (Rome) after long time. And I think I’m playing good tennis on the surface where I don’t feel [my best].”

Few players–with Nadal and Dominic Thiem being obvious exceptions–are feeling their best these days. As such, more upsets on the level of Verdasco over Zverev can be expected throughout the remainder of the frantic fortnight.

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