Taylor Fritz beats Alexander Zverev to join Tommy Paul in Wimbledon quarterfinals

WIMBLEDON, England — Tommy Paul arrived at the All England Club at 9:15 a.m. Sunday, only to have to wait hours for the rain that has lashed Wimbledon for days to stop. He warmed up for about 10 minutes before settling into a plush locker room to while away the hours with a putting match.

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

No. 13 Fritz defeated No. 4 Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-7 (7-4), 6-4, 7-6 (7-3), 6-3 on Monday to send multiple American men into the Wimbledon quarterfinals for the first time since 2000, when Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Jan-Michael Gambill reached the last eight. Fritz and Paul join a surprise female quarterfinalist, No. 19 seed Emma Navarro, as the last Americans standing.

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

Zverev breezed through the first two sets. But Fritz, who won a warm-up tournament on grass for Wimbledon, felt he was playing too well to give up. He backed off Zverev’s serve and gave himself more time to place returns exactly where he wanted.

Fritz finally broke Zverev in the third set — just once. But in a match that came down to big serves and short points, that was enough to hold him.

“Once we got into the rallies,” Fritz said, “I felt like I was playing as well as I could play.”

Zverev was not troubled by his own performance. The 27-year-old suffered a nasty fall 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,” Zverev said. “He’s playing great. … But I also know the match wasn’t high-level. I mean, it wasn’t a particularly good tennis match. … There weren’t really long rallies, because I couldn’t play long rallies.”

Zverev had one more complaint to voice at the net after the match. He told Fritz that he felt some of the spectators in his penalty area were being disrespectful, especially since Zverev was having trouble moving.

“Taylor and I grew up together, we’ve played against each other since juniors. I think it was pretty clear that I wasn’t 100 percent today, right?” Zverev said when asked about the exchange. “… His team is extremely respectful. I think his coach, his physical therapist, his second coach as well, are extremely respectful. There are some other people who are maybe in the box who are maybe not from the tennis world, who maybe don’t watch every match. They were a little bit over the top. That’s okay. No problems. No drama.”

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

The Californian advanced to face 25th-seeded Lorenzo Musetti, one of two Italians still in the last eight, along with top-seeded Jannik Sinner. Paul, who also won a grass-court tournament before Wimbledon, has a key match against third-seeded Carlos Alcaraz scheduled for Court No. 1 on Tuesday.

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

“Serve and return are important to me. We both play quite an aggressive style of tennis,” Paul said of Alcaraz. “He plays quite well and ultra-aggressive. It’s fun to watch him. Honestly, it’s fun to play against him.”

Second-seeded Novak Djokovic advanced to the other fourth-round match on Monday, defeating 15th-seeded Holger Rune 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to reach his 60th Grand Slam quarterfinal. On Wednesday, Djokovic will face 9th-seeded Alex de Minaur, who defeated Arthur Fils 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

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