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The sport’s greats are of general consensus, it’s only a matter of time for Alexander Zverev.

They’ve been spouting that line for years now.

On a darkening Thursday evening, however, time was all that appeared to save the 21-year-old from another premature departure on a Grand Slam stage.

In what had developed into a high-quality shoot-out between two of the sport’s most highly touted talents, it was Taylor Fritz, just six months Zverev’s junior, who strode to the chair with a two sets to one lead before bad light intervened.

The American had thumped his way through a third set tie-break without conceding a point and Zverev couldn’t have packed his bags quick enough to break momentum and force the pair to resume battle on Friday.

Fritz had pleaded his case to continue. This was a match he felt he could have finished off in four. And with his serve so on song in set number three, it was difficult to disagree.

After a night to regroup, however, Zverev returned to highlight the gap that had developed between the pair’s progression in recent years.

Under full sun on No.1 Court, he conceded just three games further as he hammered his way through the final two sets for a 6-4, 5-7, 6-7(0), 6-1, 6-2 result.

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