LONDON (AP) — Alexander Zverev overcame a knee problem, a marathon tiebreaker and nerves from seeing one of his sporting idols in the Royal Box in order to book a spot in Wimbledon’s fourth round.

Zverev beat Cameron Norrie — the last British man in the tournament — 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (15) on Saturday after converting his sixth match point in the tiebreaker on Centre Court.

He’d needed treatment several times on his left knee following a tumble in the second set. He was also a bit starstruck from seeing Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, one of several major sporting figures in the Royal Box. Zverev is a massive fan of Bayern Munich, the German club that Guardiola coached from 2013-16.

“When I saw Pep I got so nervous for a few games there,” Zverev told the crowd after the win, before launching a personal appeal to Guardiola. “Bayern Munich needs a coach, man. And if you’re tired of football, you can coach me on the tennis court anytime.”

Ben Shelton also reached the fourth round after the 14th-seeded American came through a third straight five-setter, beating Denis Shapovalov 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 on No. 1 Court in a match that had been suspended overnight in the first set because of rain.

Shelton is the first man to win three consecutive five-set matches at Wimbledon since Ernests Gulbis in 2018. No one ever has won four five-setters in a row at any Grand Slam tournament in the Open era, which dates to 1968.

Other early winners included No. 16 Ugo Humbert, who set up a meeting with defending champion Carlos Alcaraz by downing Brandon Nakashima 7-6 (9), 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (8) in a match that had been suspended before the fourth-set tiebreaker.

In the women’s tournament, Xinyu Wang of China rallied to beat Harriet Dart of Britain 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 while 13th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko ousted Bernarda Pera 6-1, 6-3.

Zverev was chasing down a shot at 2-2 in the second set when he seemed to hyperextend his left knee as his leg slid forward on the grass. The fourth-seeded German stayed down and winced in pain as he received treatment from a trainer, and then clutched the knee after he got back up.

He kept playing but said his movement was restricted after that and he would have his knee examined to determine the extent of the issue.

“I do feel like a cow on ice sometimes,” Zverev said.

In the third-set tiebreaker, Zverev trailed 4-1 before fighting back to earn a first match point at 6-5, only to struggle mightily to close it out. The players traded chances back and forth as Zverev had to save a total of five set points before Norrie finally sent a backhand wide on the German’s sixth match point.

Rain delayed play in the morning for a second straight day, with organizers already having some catching up to do after several matches were suspended overnight.

One match did not have to be played, however, as ninth-seeded Alex de Minaur received a walkover into the fourth round when his opponent Lucas Pouille, a qualifier from France, withdrew with an abdominal injury.

Other big names on court later included seven-time champion Novak Djokovic, who was playing Alexei Popyrin in the late match on Centre Court, and women’s No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who faced Yulia Putintseva on No. 1 Court.


AP tennis: