Alexander Zverev spread his arms and grinned with joy: The tennis Olympic champion gained new self-confidence with a prestige victory for the US Open, which begins in a week and a half.

The 26-year-old beat world number three Daniil Medvedev from Russia in the round of 16 of the ATP 1000 tournament in Cincinnati after a convincing performance 6: 4, 5: 7, 6: 4. After the last nine defeats in a row against top ten players, this victory for Zverev is particularly valuable psychologically.

Zverev hadn’t looked good against Medvedev either, in the previous nine matches he had only managed one win. But in the duel in Cincinnati, Zverev started out highly concentrated and strong. In the second set, however, the German had significantly more problems getting his serve through and consequently lost the round. In the final set, Zverev caught himself again and converted his first match point after 2:32 hours.

Quarterfinals against Mannarino or McDonald

“I lost a few close matches this year and I’m happy that I won this time,” said Zverev afterwards. In the quarter-finals he meets either Frenchman Adrian Mannarino or American Mackenzie McDonald, who defeated Yannick Hanfmann from Karlsruhe in the first round.

The duel Zverev against Medvedev not only has a sporting history. After Zverev’s narrow three-set defeat in Monte Carlo in mid-April, both publicly criticized each other sharply. “I take fairness and sportsmanship very, very seriously. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any of that,” Zverev said: “He tries to do everything when he’s behind. I’m extremely disappointed as an athlete.” Medvedev countered: “Sasha lives in his own world and when he loses you find 25 interviews in which he says strange things. If he says that someone is playing unfairly, he should take a look in the mirror.” In the meantime, however, both athletes have spoken out.