Daniil Medvedev out-aced one of the game’s biggest guns as he reached the fourth round of the French Open 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 over Reilly Opelka on Friday.
The American who stands 2.11 metres could manage only five while the whippet-thin Russian second seed piled on 10.
Two more American made exits, with Steve Johnson falling to Pablo Carreno Busta 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 and Chile’s Christian Garin defeating Marcos Giron 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.
Medvedev has flown under the radar so far after insisting during his rise to world No. 2 that clay was just not his surface – but is changing fast.
“Clay in Roland Garros feels great, I’ve said it from the beginning. After the first round guys have to play good to beat me.
“But I know I can still lose to myself playing bad.”
The Russian has had his way against Yanks, winning 18 or his last 19 matches against them; his victory avenged a loss to Opelka last year in St Petersburg.
Medvedev now stands 7-1 against Americans at the Slams and 25-3 overall.
“It’s definitely never an easy draw to play Reilly. He made his first semi-final in Masters 1000 on clay (Rome),” the Monte Carlo-based Russian said.
“A few rainy conditions, a wet, heavy court which I totally hate on clay, helped me today,” Medvedev said. “That was the positive for me.
“I’m definitely happy with my game and my return today because I actually hit more aces than him. That’s a great achievement.”
Alexander Zveerev had the new Chatrier showcourt roof to thank after getting past Laslo Djere.
Play was uninterrupted for the German sixth seed and his Serb opponent as a rainy period arrived which drove other matches around the grounds at Roland Garros off court for an hour or so.
Zverev motored on, winning 11 of the final 13 games to secure his 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 win over the number 55.
But the seed found himself starting down the barrel as he trailed 3-5, 0-40 on his opponent’s serve in the second set.
But the difficulties only inspired the US Open finalist and last month’s Madrid champion to fight on.
“To be honest, I was very happy that I played on Chatrier, that we didn’t stop
the match, that we played with a closed roof,” he said.
“I felt comfortable today on court, that’s important, because the matches are getting tougher, the opponents are getting tougher.
“Now is the time where you need to start playing your best tennis.”
Zverev will run into a familiar face in Sunday’s fourth round, with the winner advancing to the key second week of the major.
The 24-year-old will be staring across the net at Kei NIshikori after the Japanese advanced 7-5 when Swiss Henri Laaksonen could not go on due to an adductor tear.
“When I started the match, everything was fine,: laaksonen said. “In the 2-1 game I went to the backhand corner.
“I tried to recover from there, and I felt pain in the inside adductor – then I couldn’t move then anymore.
“My body didn’t give me any warning, it was feeling actually very good, recovered.
“I didn’t have anything from the previous matches.”
Nishikori admitted he was lucky to get a win in abbreviated fashion.
“It was a big chance for me to play just one set, I’m looking to recover well today and tomorrow.
“Sascha is next; I;ve lost to him last two tournaments in a row.
“This will give me a little bit of a chance to get back to 100 per cent again. I’m kind of excited to play,” said the 32-year-old who has been dealing with various injuries for the past few seasons.
Zverev has defeated Asia’s best player in his last two events in Madrid and Rome and has won four out of five in the series – including the last three.
“It’s gonna be a difficult one, he’s playing well, and has a few five-set matches under his belt,” the German said,
“Today gives him (recovery) time and helped him a little bit from a
“But it’s gonna be a tough one, I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Norway’s 15th seed Casper Ruud lost a marathon struggle with Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6(2), 2-6, 7-6(6), 0-6, 7-5.
The roller-coaster ride took more than four and a half hours with the opening set lasting for 82 minutes.
Both men ended with 59 winners and around 60 unforced errors each; on the scorecard, Ruud won 15 more points than his opponent.
“It’s tough but it’s a part of the game,” The Norwegian said. “You just have to accept it, you can’t dwell too much on it
“Luckily there will be new chances in a couple of weeks already. I’m of course a bit sad but it’s okay. It’s not the end of the world.”
Davidovich moves on to face Argentine Federico Delbonis, who defeated Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-1, 6-3.
The Italian’s frustration boiled over at one point, with Fognini hitting his racquet with his knuckles so hard that he needed medical treatment and bandages on his fingers before carrying on.
“The analysis is clear: I played very bad tennis today,” he said. “I don’t know how to win – that’s all.”
Fognini missed the chance for a record with the loss.
Had he taken his 63rd Grand Slam victory, he would have passed Adriano Panatta to take second place in the Italian listing behind Nicola Pietrangeli.
Fognini let it all slip away after defeating Delbonis in five of seven previous matches, including here in the 2019 second round.