Frances Tiafoe falls to Alexander Zverev at French Open; Ruud wins

PARIS -- Frances Tiafoe kept coming oh-so-close to extending his French Open match against Alexander Zverev. Twelve times Saturday night, the American player was two points from forcing things to a fifth set.

Yet the 12th-seeded Tiafoe never got closer than that.

Instead, the 22nd-seeded Zverev finished out his 3-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1, 7-6 (5) victory after more than 3½ hours in Court Philippe Chatrier to reach the fourth round. With Tiafoe's exit, none of the 16 men from the United States who were in the bracket at the start of the tournament are still in the field.

"I mean, for the majority of the match, I felt like I was in control," said Tiafoe, a 25-year-old from Maryland who fell to 1-7 against Zverev.

"It's just tough," he said about a half-hour after his loss ended, rubbing his face with a hand. "I should be playing the fifth right now."

Two other American men lost earlier Saturday: No. 9 seed Taylor Fritz and unseeded Marcos Giron. No. 23 Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina beat Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5, and Nicolas Jarry of Chile eliminated Giron 6-2, 6-3, 6-7 (7), 6-3.

There are three U.S women remaining: No. 6 Coco Gauff, Sloane Stephens and Bernarda Pera.

It is the second year in a row that zero men from the United States will participate in the fourth round at Roland Garros. If nothing else, it stands as a symbolic step back for the group after what seemed to be a couple of breakthrough showings at the past two majors.

For Tiafoe, getting to the fourth round is never the goal.

"I want to win the trophy," he said.

No American man has won a Grand Slam title since Andy Roddick at the 2003 US Open.

In Saturday's match, after putting aside a whiffed over-the-shoulder volley, Tiafoe served for the fourth set at 5-3, but he couldn't seal the deal. In that game, and the next, and later on, too, including at 5-all in the tiebreaker, he would come within two points of owning that set.

Each time, Zverev claimed the very next point. When Tiafoe sent a forehand wide to end it, Zverev let out two big yells. Then the two, who have been pals for about 15 years, met for a warm embrace at the net, and Zverev placed a hand atop Tiafoe's head.

"He's one of my best friends on tour," said Germany's Zverev, who twice has reached the semifinals on the red clay of Paris, "but on the court, I'm trying to win."

Zverev's win set up a fourth-round match against No. 28 Grigor Dimitrov, a 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 winner over Germany's Daniel Altmaier.

In other men's third-round matches, fourth-seeded Casper Ruud rallied to beat Zhang Zhizhen 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4, ending a strong run by the player from China.

"I'm very happy with being through the first three matches. It's tough," said Ruud, who lost to Rafael Nadal in the 2022 final. "It's been much more pressure, obviously, playing this year compared to last year.

"Last year, I could sort of just do my work in the shadow. This year it's a little more eyes on me ... I feel the pressure a bit different this year."

Zhang was the first Chinese man to reach the third round at Roland Garros since Kho Sin-Khie in 1937. Kho also reached the fourth round in 1936, but that proved a step too far for Zhang despite a lightning start on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Zhang broke Ruud in the opening game and went on to take the set as the Norwegian player grew more and more frustrated.

Matters grew worse for Ruud as he found himself 0-40 down on his serve early in the second set, but he collected his emotions and -- after a topsy-turvy set -- went on to level the match at his first opportunity.

Ruud then improved in the last two sets and sealed the match with a forehand down the line on the first of two match points.

Holger Rune opened play on Court Philippe Chatrier on Saturday and comfortably dispatched qualifier Genaro Alberto Olivieri, who -- at No. 231 -- was the lowest-ranked player to reach the third round this year. Rune won 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 in less than two hours.

It was harder work for Yoshihito Nishioka in his 3-6, 7-6 (8), 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 victory over Thiago Seyboth Wild. That was the 30th match at this year's French Open that has gone to five sets.

Also, Tomas Martin Etcheverry upset 15th-seeded Borna Coric, and Nicolas Jarry beat Marcos Giron.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.