Zverev, Brooksby register latest-ever finish in professional match
Alexander Zverev completed victory over American Jenson Brooksby in the Abierto Mexicano tournament at 4.55 am local time in Acapulco, Mexico, on Tuesday – the latest ever finish for a professional tennis match.
After battling for three hours and 19 minutes, during which the German world No.3 twice came within a point of losing during a second set tie-breaker, Zverev defeated the 47th-ranked Brooksby 3-6, 7-6 (12-10), 6-2.
There were still appreciative tennis fans in the stands at the ATP 500 tournament which has four of the world’s top five players participating this year, as the match finished even later than the 2008 Australian Open clash between Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis which ended at 4:34 am.
“Right now I’m happy to have won,” defending champion Zverev said on court. “I don’t know how Jenson feels. Must be difficult, but I am happy to be a part of history. It was an incredible battle.”
Change in fortune
American Stefan Kozlov was in the middle of an evening practice session with Rafael Nadal when he found out he was replacing injured Frenchman Maxime Cressy in the main draw as a lucky loser.
“I was playing a practice set with Rafa... he breaks his string, goes to his bag. I just happen to check my phone for whatever reason,” Kozlov said. “I just had an intuition and then I have 20 text messages ... they’re like ‘get over here’. I dropped all my stuff. I told Rafa, he’s got a big smile on his face. He’s super excited for me ... I got over here and I had about 30 minutes to get ready.”
Facing former world No.3 Grigor Dimitrov, the 130th-ranked Kozlov suffered severe leg cramps after breaking his opponent’s serve to take a 5-3 lead in the second set.
Kozlov slumped to the ground in agony and was barely able to move after returning to court as Dimitrov reeled off four successive games to force a decider. Most people would have expected Kozlov to retire after losing the second set but the 24-year-old displayed incredible mental and physical strength to complete his biggest career win in three hours and 21 minutes.
He will next face either fellow American Denis Kudla or Nadal. At the end of the match, Kozlov wrote a few words on a camera lens as an apology letter to Nadal. He wrote: “Rafa Sorry for Stopping Practice Today.”
“Today I was totally expecting not to be playing,” said Kozlov, adding that he would have retired if he had failed to hold his first service game in the third set against Dimitrov.
“Now I’ve got the biggest win of my career and I’m about to play Rafa Nadal.”
Nadal is all set to play his first match after winning the Australian Open. The 21-time grand slam winner, has won in Acapulco three times and is looking for his fourth one. He will take on Kudla in his first match.
Nadal is one of four top-5 players in the draw at Acapulco alongside Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev, defending champion Alexander Zverev and fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The Mexican Open is an ATP 500 tournament. Since that category started in 2009, only Dubai in 2012 and Beijing in 2013 have featured four of the Top 5 players in the world.
Earlier, John Isner outlasted Fernando Verdasco 7-5, 6-7 (7-4), 7-6 (7-3) in three hours, 13 minutes. Isner will next play either Cameron Norrie and Daniel Altmaier.
In other first-round matches, seventh-seeded Taylor Fritz beat Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 6-3, Brandon Nakashima beat Peter Gojowczyk 6-4, 6-4, Dusan Lajovic fended off Sebastian Korda 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 and eighth-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta swept Oscar Otte 6-2, 6-4.