German hotshot Zverev crashes Wawrinka’s birthday

Alexander Zverev, 19, of Germany hits a backhand during his 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory over top seed Stan Wawrinka on Tuesday in the Round of 16.
Alexander Zverev, 19, of Germany hits a backhand during his 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory over top seed Stan Wawrinka on Tuesday in the Round of 16.

Stan Wawrinka’s 32nd birthday did not go as he had planned.

The top seed at the Miami Open was knocked out 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the Round of 16 by 19-year-old German hot shot Alexander “Sascha” Zverev, a charismatic player who is quickly becoming a fan favorite around the world. Zverev had 10 wins over Top 20 players last year, including shock victories against Roger Federer and Wawrinka.

Monday night, Zverev needed to save match point and fight through three tiebreaks to beat John Isner. He came back strong against Wawrinka.

“I was maybe quarter of an inch away to being out of the tournament, so maybe I was a bit lucky,” he said. “I had to use the opportunity. I knew I got a second chance in this tournament, so I'm really happy that I used it.”

Wawrinka conceded it wasn’t his day. Tournament organizers had a tropical “Stan the Man” birthday cake waiting for him after the match, but he wasn’t in a party mood.

“It was really humid, not easy to play great tennis,” he said. “One bad game to start the second set and then it was tough for me. I don't know. I completely went down physically and mentally, and also my tennis was completely out. I had no more gas.”

Asked if he felt bad about spoiling his opponent’s birthday, Zverev replied: “I’m sorry. I wanted to win as well. It’s my brother’s girlfriend’s birthday, as well, so happy birthday to her.”

Zverev plays the winner of Tuesday’s late match between Nick Kyrgios and David Goffin.

Wozniacki, Pliskova advance to semis: In the only two women’s matches on Tuesday, No. 2 seed Karolina Pliskova and former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki advanced to the semifinals with straight sets victories.

Pliskova beat Mirjana Luci-Baroni 6-3, 6-4. Wozniacki won the night match 6-4, 6-3 against Lucie Safarova. Pliskova is ranked No. 3 in the world, won two titles so far this year, and is now in the Miami Open semis. But she says she has a way to go to reach No. 1.

“Obviously, with these results I’m having now, I’m getting there and pushing a little bit on them,” Pliskova said. “Still, I would have to win a Grand Slam or do something good in Paris or Wimbledon.”

Federer to face Berdych: Roger Federer reached the quarters with a 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4) win over Roberto Bautista Agut. He said “overall I do believe I'm probably a better player (at 35 years old) than I was ten years ago.”

He says the difference is his body needs more recovery time.

“It’s harder coming out of a brutal match and then feeling fit like a fiddle in the morning, it’s like when you go clubbing. You don’t feel the same when you’re older (laughter from reporters).”

He plays 10th seed Tomas Berdych on Thursday. Berdych, a watch collector, is sporting a new $135,000 custom watch made by Miami-based designer Felio Siby. Federer has won 17 of their 23 matches, including a straight-sets win at the Australian Open.

“I wish it would be like the Australian Open, but I know it won’t,” Federer said. “Just not reality that you can come in and beat Top 10 guys at will. He’s beaten me at the Olympics, U.S. Open, Wimbledon, here, too, in big moments, so I know he can do it.”

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