Alexander Zverev was far from his best at the French Open on Wednesday but was still able to battle past Dusan Lajovic in a five-set thriller. Zverev has been one of the in-form players on clay this year with 17 wins and two titles to his name on the red dirt – including victory over Dominic Thiem at the Madrid Open. He eased past Ricardas Berankis in the opening round in Paris but Lajovic proved a much tougher test, Zverev eventually progressing 2-6 7-5 4-6 6-1 6-2.
Zverev sets up Round 3 meeting with Dzumhur
A relieved Zverev will play Damir Dzumhur in round three as he looks to go further than ever before at Roland Garros – although he can ill afford the mistakes that delayed his latest victory. He was out of sorts early on and the energetic Lajovic took full advantage, the Serbian mixing up his game to comfortably take the opening set.
Lajovic's kick serve was particularly problematic for the second seed, Zverev rooted to the baseline and firing wide all too often. A long backhand early in the second set gave Lajovic another opening and led to Zverev needing a new racket – his previous one destroyed by the frustrated German.
However, the 21-year-old regained his composure and was soon level. A missed opportunity in the eighth game could have proved costly but when Lajovic twice went long the match was tied up. A topsy-turvy but highly entertaining contest swung back in Lajovic's favour in the third with the crucial break coming as his high-intensity game forced further mistakes from his opponent.
Lajovic converted the second of his three set points to move back in front following a superb service game, only for Zverev to dig deep once again. As Zverev upped his levels, Lajovic's earlier efforts began to take their toll, the Serbian looking weary as his younger opponent needed only 35 minutes to set up a decider. A tired Lajovic was unable to recover and that allowed Zverev to come to the fore, the world number three's quality finally shining through as he completed a gutsy victory with a service game to love.
Zverev  bt Lajovic 2-6 7-5 4-6 6-1 6-2
Zverev – 42/53
Lajovic – 38/61
Zverev – 9/7
Lajovic – 0/4
BREAK POINTS WON
Zverev – 7/23
Lajovic – 5/10
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Zverev – 57
Lajovic – 57
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Zverev – 77/46
Lajovic – 67/43
Zverev – 156
Lajovic – 141