Thiem Outclasses Zverev For Final Showdown Against Djokovic

Germany’s Alexander Zverev reacts after a point against Austria’s Dominic Thiem during their men’s singles semi-final match on day twelve of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 31, 2020.
William WEST / AFP

 

Tireless Dominic Thiem came from a set down to outlast German Alexander Zverev and make his first Australian Open final Friday, booking a showdown with seven-time champion Novak Djokovic.

The 26-year-old fifth seed, the first player from Austria ever to reach the Melbourne decider, battled past seventh-ranked Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4) on a sweltering evening.

Defending champion Djokovic awaits him after the second seed ended Roger Federer’s dreams in straight sets Thursday to make his eighth Melbourne Park final.

Thiem has his work cut out against the Serb who is on a 12-match unbeaten streak this season and has won all seven of the Australian Open deciders he has contested.

And if Djokovic needs extra motivation, winning on Sunday will see him reclaim the world number one ranking after Rafael Nadal crashed to Thiem in the last eight.

“It was an unreal match, two tie-breakers, so tough and so close. It was almost impossible to break him,” said Thiem.

“Being in the Australian Open final is unreal. What a start to the season for me.”

Thiem had dealt with semi-final pressure before, although always on the slower red clay at Roland Garros, where he reached the past two finals only to be beaten by Nadal.

That experience paid dividends as he coolly closed out the match after 3hrs 42 mins to give himself another chance to break the stranglehold of the Big Three and win his first Grand Slam.

“I was playing four hours 10 against Rafa (in the quarter-finals), who is the most intense guy on tour, almost always so intense and long,” Thiem said.

“So it was not easy to recover. But once all the adrenalin came, already when I walked into the full stadium was fine, actually, but still I had some troubles in the first set.”

 

– Light failure –

A jittery Thiem was broken in the opening game, saving two break points before sending a backhand wide to immediately be on the back foot.

Both players were nervous and the German failed to consolidate, broken straight back.

Their momentum was interrupted when the rain began falling and the roof needed closing, but it was only a brief intermission and Zverev resumed to hold for 2-2.

Thiem was still struggling with his first serve and a double fault handed the German a chance to go 4-3 in front and he grabbed it.

Zverev took command, putting 90 percent of his booming first serves in, and broke again to seal the set as the Austrian error-count mounted.

But the 22-year-old lost focus and two double faults in game three of the second set handed Thiem a 2-1 lead.

Zverev managed to break back but he was too erratic as Thiem broke again and clung on, firing an ace to take set two.

Bizarrely, play was halted for nine minutes one game into the third set when a light went out above the baseline and it bothered Zverev.

When they resumed, Thiem held serve and then broke with an epic backhand winner as Zverev again lost concentration and the momentum appeared to shift.

Thiem is one of the best returners in the game and was getting almost every ball back. He looked to be on his way, but Zverev refused to surrender and broke again to even it up.

It went to a tiebreak where Thiem turned on the style to take a stranglehold on the match.

There was little between them in the crucial fourth set as they traded blows. It went to serve and another tie-breaker when Thiem’s experience helped him over the line.

AFP

Australian Open: Zverev Promises $2.8m To Bushfire Relief

Germany’s Alexander Zverev signs autographs after defeating Italy’s Marco Cecchinato during their men’s singles match on day two of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2020. William WEST / AFP

 

Alexander Zverev vowed to donate his prize money to bushfire relief if he picks up the Australian Open’s Aus$4.12 million ($2.83 million) winner’s cheque after he swept into the second round Tuesday.

The German seventh seed had a miserable build-up to the opening Grand Slam of the year, crashing spectacularly in all three of his singles matches at the ATP Cup teams event, looking lost on the court.

But he has regained some swagger after a week out of the spotlight and eased past the 77th-ranked Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 on Margaret Court Arena.

Zverev played in the ‘Rally for Relief’ fundraiser ahead of the opening Major of the year, and said he had been touched by the disaster that has devastated huge swathes of the country.

“I will donate $10,000 for every match I win,” he said after his opening-round victory. “I know I’m not the favourite, but if I win (the tournament) I will donate every cent to the bushfires.”

Germany’s Alexander Zverev reacts after a point against Italy’s Marco Cecchinato during their men’s singles match on day two of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 21, 2020. William WEST / AFP

Cecchinato came into the match on a seven-match Grand Slam losing streak since defeating Novak Djokovic in the French Open quarter-finals in 2018.

That was his best-ever Slam effort, crashing at the first hurdle in the other 10 Majors has been in, and he never looked like ending the drought Tuesday.

Zverev was nimble around the court with the precision of his serve proving decisive.

“It was a great first-round match, a lot of high-level tennis, especially from the baseline,” said the German.

“I hope maybe I can do better than the last few years. I’m a year older, not much wiser, but trying my best, practising hard and trying to do the right things.”

Big things have been tipped for Zverev since he burst into the top 10 in 2017, but the 22-year-old is yet to fully deliver.

He won just one title last year, at Geneva, and slipped down the rankings to seven from four at the start of the season.

Last year, he recorded his best result at Melbourne Park, reaching the Round of 16 where he fell to big-serving Milos Raonic in straight sets.

AFP

Fourth Seed Zverev Scrapes Into Australian Open Third Round

Germany’s Alexander Zverev celebrates his victory against France’s Jeremy Chardy during their men’s singles match on day four of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 17, 2019. Greg Wood / AFP

 

Alexander Zverev almost blew his quest for a maiden Grand Slam title Thursday before registering a gritty five-set win over France’s Jeremy Chardy in the Australian Open second round.

The fourth seed looked far from his anointed status as the flag-bearer for the next generation as he failed time and again to put away the veteran before winning 7-6 (7/5), 6-4, 5-7, 6-7 (6/8), 6-1.

The 21-year-old German will face young Australian wildcard Alex Bolt in the last 32 after eventually winning in 3hr 42min on Margaret Court Arena.

Watched by concerned coach Ivan Lendl, Zverev threw away four break points in the third set and four more and a match point in the fourth.

The dogged Frenchman, the world number 36, would not lie down and extended the match beyond midnight with Zverev finally securing match point at the 12.15am local time Friday (1315 GMT Thursday).

“Tha was amazing,” said Zverev after the pair had embraced warmly at the net. “He’s very close to me on tour so it was always going to be an entertaining match.”

In-form Zverev began the year with a run to the final of the mixed teams Hopman Cup following his breakthrough victory over Novak Djokovic at the ATP Tour Finals last season.

But he knows he needs to win a Grand Slam soon to cement his place as a serious contender to end the major monopoly enjoyed by the old guard of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic.

So far, he has reached just one quarter-final in 14 appearances on the game’s biggest stages, losing to Dominic Thiem in the last eight at the 2018 French Open despite having won 10 ATP titles.

He has never got beyond the third round in Melbourne. Last year, seeded four, he crashed out at that stage to South Korea’s Chung Hyeon.

But it was the manner of his win in London in November — dismissing Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 a day after a 7-5, 7-6 triumph over Federer — that had people believing the German had turned the corner and would be a major force in 2019.

AFP

Ball Boy Fumble Overshadows Zverev Win Over Federer At ATP Finals

Ball Boy Fumble Overshadows Zverev Win Over Federer At ATP Finals
Germany’s Alexander Zverev (R) shakes hands after winning against Switzerland’s Roger Federer during their men’s singles semi-final match on day seven of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 17, 2018. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Alexander Zverev beat Roger Federer 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) on Saturday to reach the title decider at the ATP Finals in a match that ended in confusion after a ball boy’s fumble forced a point to be replayed.

The 21-year-old German, leading the charge of the new generation against the old guard, is now just one win away from the biggest title of his career but the Swiss must wait for a tilt at his 100th tournament victory.

The end of the match was overshadowed by an unusual incident, Zverev stopping a rally with Federer leading 4-3 in the second-set tie-break after the ball boy dropped a ball.

Zverev won the replayed point with an ace and nudged into a 5-4 lead before Federer inexplicably netted with a simple forehand volley to hand the German two set points, the second of which he took on his own serve.

Immediately after the match finished there were boos from the pro-Federer crowd at London’s O2 Arena and on-court interviewer Annabel Croft told them to be “more respectful” as Zverev had been playing by the rules.

“Obviously the crowd didn’t appreciate it, which I was a little bit upset — not upset, but I was a little bit sad at the end with the booing and reaction of the crowd,” he said.

“Maybe they didn’t know what actually happened. That was maybe part of the reaction. But, you know, at the end of the day I said sorry to Roger at the net. He said ‘Look, you don’t even have to apologise’.”

Federer described it as a “big call” but said Zverev was not to blame.

“It was obviously a big call. Instead of being in the rally in a decent position, you get aced, yes, it makes a difference,” he said. “It could have made a difference. That’s all hypothetically speaking now at this point.”

“I didn’t think I was hitting my spots very well for the majority of the match,” he added. “I think it came towards the end, which helped me to make it competitive and close at the very end.”

– Serve dominates –

Serve dominated the first set of a high-class match, with neither player able to make serious inroads, Zverev sending down howitzers around the 140 miles-per-hour (225 kilometres per hour) mark.

The Swiss six-time champion eventually faltered in the 12th game of the opening set, watching helplessly as Zverev zipped a magnificent passing shot past him down the line on his way to breaking to love.

The second seed regrouped and drew first blood in the second set, breaking in the third game with a thunderous backhand down the line that drew enormous cheers from the partisan crowd.

But the frustrated 20-time Grand Slam winner could not consolidate his position, losing the next game as Zverev levelled at 2-2.

The eventual tie-break went with serve until the 10th point, when Federer netted to hand Zverev a mini-break — an advantage he did not squander.

Zverev, who already has three Masters series titles under his belt in his short career, is the youngest finalist at the event since Juan Martin del Potro in 2009 but has been found wanting at the Grand Slams.

In Saturday’s later match, world number one Novak Djokovic takes on South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in a repeat of the Wimbledon final for the right to face the German in Sunday’s final.

AFP

Federer Suffers Shock Defeat To Germany’s Zverev In ATP Semi

Switzerland’s Roger Federer uses a towel during a break in play against Germany’s Alexander Zverev during their men’s singles semi-final match on day seven of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 17, 2018. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Roger Federer said he hoped a ballboy who dropped a ball during the climax of his ATP Finals last-four defeat against Alexander Zverev would not have a sleepless night.

Germany’s Zverev won the match 7-5, 7-6 (7/5) but the end of the contest at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday was overshadowed by an unusual incident.

Zverev stopped playing during a rally with Federer leading 4-3 in the second-set tie-break after the ballboy’s error, forcing the point to be replayed.

Zverev won the point with an ace and nudged into a 5-4 lead before Federer inexplicably netted with a simple forehand volley to hand the German two set points, the second of which he took on his own serve.

Immediately after the match finished there were boos from the pro-Federer crowd and on-court interviewer Annabel Croft told them to be “more respectful” as Zverev had been playing by the rules.

“First of all I want to apologise for the situation in the tie-break,” said the German. “The ball boy dropped the ball and it is the rules we have to stop the point.”

Federer, who was chasing a seventh end-of-season title, described Zverev’s move to stop the rally as a “big call” but said no blame attached to the German.

“I’m not questioning Sascha’s (Zverev’s) sportsmanship in any way,” he added.

Federer said the ballboy had confirmed to him that he had dropped the ball.

“From that standpoint, it’s OK, no problem, that happens,” said the Swiss. “It’s all good. It’s all good. I hope he doesn’t have a sleepless night. It’s not a big deal at the end of the day.”

“I’m definitely not mad at him,” he added. “It’s all good, you know, from my side.”

AFP

Zverev Joins Nadal, Djokovic In Rome Third Round

Zverev Joins Nadal, Djokovic In Rome Third Round
Germany’s Alexander Zverev serves the ball to Italy’s Matteo Berrettini during the ATP Tennis Open tournament at the Foro Italico, on May 16, 2018 in Rome. FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

Alexander Zverev got his Rome title defence underway at the Italian Open on Wednesday with a straight-sets win over Italy’s Matteo Berrettini as the German bids for back-to-back Masters triumphs after success in Madrid.

The second seed eased past Berrettini 7-5, 6-2 to join former winners Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the third round at the Foro Italico as Austrian Dominic Thiem fell at the first hurdle.

“It’s not easy to come from Madrid where there’s a lot of altitude and it’s very fast,” said Zverev.

“I only had one day to prepare but I adjusted well.”

But sixth seed Thiem crashed out just a week after inflicting a first clay-court defeat on Nadal in over a year in Madrid which cost the Spaniard the world number one ranking.

The 24-year-old destroyed his racket in fury as he suffered his first loss to Italian Fabio Fognini in three meetings, sinking 6-4, 1-6, 6-3.

For rising German star Zverev it was a tenth consecutive win after back-to-back title runs at Munich and Madrid.

Zverev trailed 0/40 in the third game but rolled off five points to hold. He broke in the 11th game and later served out the set.

Berrettini turned on his right ankle at 1-2 in the second set and looked in difficulty, allowing Zverev to push through.

The 21-year-old from Hamburg next meets Britain’s Kyle Edmund, who beat Djokovic in the Madrid second round, and got past Lucas Pouille 6-2, 7-6 (7/3) in Rome on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, clay king Nadal was relieved to be back winning as he builds towards the French Open, racing to a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Bosnian Damir Dzumhur.

“After a loss in Madrid, it’s important to come back strong. And that’s what I did today,” said Nadal, who is targeting an eighth Rome title and first since 2013.

The 31-year-old, who recently claimed the 11th titles of his career at both Monte Carlo and Barcelona, took the first set in 34 minutes, coasting to victory in just an hour.

The 16-time Grand Slam winner next takes on Canadian teenager Denis Shapovalov who dug deep in a 7-6 (7/3), 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 win over Robin Haase of the Netherlands.

Djokovic, a four-time champion on the comeback trail three months after elbow surgery, eased past Georgia’s Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-2.

The Serb will next play Spaniard Albert Ramos Vinolas who squeezed past American eighth seed John Isner 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/5).

Bulgarian third seed Grigor Dimitrov also suffered an early exit, going out to Japan’s Kei Nishikori after a marathon 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 6-4 battle.

– Halep, Wozniacki advance –

In the women’s tournament, top seeds Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki advanced to the third round in straight sets.

Halep eased past Japan’s Naomi Osaka 6-1, 6-0, as Wozniacki beat Belgian Alison Van Uytvanck 6-1, 6-4.

Wozniacki can reclaim the world number one ranking from Halep, last year’s losing finalist, if the Romanian fails to reach the quarter-finals.

Halep next plays 13th-seeded American Madison Keys, who battled past Croatian Donna Vekic 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/0), for a place in the last eight.

Maria Sharapova saved two break points in the third set to get past Dominika Cibulkova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

“I just really wanted to win this match against a really classy player,” said the five-time Grand Slam champion.

Venus Williams, who won the Rome title back in 1999 and is bidding for her 50th career title this week, got her first win on clay this season.

But the 37-year-old had to save a match point before seeing off Russian Elena Vesnina 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 and will next face Anett Kontaveit.

US Open champion Sloane Stephens will play France’s Caroline Garcia for a quarter-final place.

Former world number one Karolina Pliskova took centre stage for smashing the umpire’s chair with her racket instead of shaking hands after losing to Greece’s Maria Sakkari after an incorrect line call.

AFP

Davis Cup: Zverev Gives Germany Early Advantage

Alexander Zverev of Germany hits a return against Alex De Minaur of Australia during their men’s singles tennis match in the Davis Cup World Group tie at the Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane on February 2, 2018. Patrick HAMILTON / AFP

 

Alexander Zverev handed Germany a 1-0 lead in their Davis Cup World Group first round tie against Australia when he outlasted Alex de Minaur in a four-hour marathon in Brisbane on Friday.

Zverev was forced to fight every step of the way before seeing off the challenge of the 18-year-old de Minaur 7-5, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) on Pat Rafter Arena.

The world number five had looked down and out when de Minaur, playing superb defensive tennis, took a two set to love lead.

But Zverev fought back to win the fourth set before recovering from an early break in the fifth to force a tiebreak.

He then created a mini-break at 3-4 in the tiebreak and served superbly to take the match and give his country the early advantage.

Zverev, 20, has had a disappointing Davis Cup record, with one win and four losses before Friday’s match.

Considered one of the rising stars of the men’s game, he also has a poor Grand Slam record and fell in the third round of the Australian Open.

But he said he has taken heart from eventual champion Roger Federer, who spoke to him after his loss in Melbourne and told him to keep working hard and success would come.

Nick Kyrgios will take on Jan-Lennard Struff in the second singles.

AFP

Federer Paired With Zverev In ATP Finals Draw

FILE PHOTO: Roger Federer

Six-time champion Roger Federer will face rising star Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals in London after they were placed in the same group on Wednesday while Rafael Nadal headlines the other section.

Federer, 36, looking to crown a remarkable year in which he has lost just four matches following a return from a lengthy lay-off, will also face former US Open champion Marin Cilic and American Jack Sock in the Boris Becker group.

Nadal’s opponents in the Pete Sampras group are Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin, with the Spanish world number one looking to win his first ATP Finals trophy.

Nadal pulled out of last week’s Paris Masters before his quarter-final with a knee injury, placing his participation in London in doubt.

Federer has won seven titles this season including the Australian Open and Wimbledon, but lost out on the year-end number one ranking to his long-time rival Nadal.

Germany’s Zverev, 20, has rocketed to third in the world rankings after an impressive year in which he has won five titles, including beating Federer in the final of the Rogers Cup Masters event in Montreal.

The ATP Finals, starting on Sunday, are the year-end climax to the men’s professional tennis season, featuring the world’s best eight qualified singles players and doubles teams.

Players compete for rankings points throughout the season in a bid to earn one of the eight coveted berths.

Played using a round-robin format at The O2 in London, each participant plays three matches as they compete for a berth in the knockout semi-finals.

AFP

Zverev Shocks Federer In Straight Sets To Win In Montreal

Zverev Shocks Federer In Straight Sets To Win In Montreal
Alexander Zverev

German fourth seed Alexander Zverev upset Roger Federer 6-3 6-4 in the Rogers Cup final in Montreal.

The victory of the 20-year-old on Sunday has helped him to join the Swiss right-hander as the most trophy-laden player on the ATP Tour this year with five titles.

The German, who arrived in Montreal fresh off his triumph in Washington, proved up for the task right out of the gate as he had the Swiss second seed on his heels from the start on a sun-kissed afternoon.

Zverev was poised and aggressive off the ground to create space for his power game and displayed some short-angled winners off thumping forehands and backhands to grab an early break for a 3-1 lead.

He consolidated for a 4-1 lead and ultimately closed out the opening set after a mere 30 minutes.

Federer started to find his groove early in the second set but suddenly appeared out of sorts while Zverev broke in the seventh game to pull ahead 4-3 and then held on for a surprise win that took 68 minutes.

The win improved Zverev to 5-1 in finals this year with the only defeat coming at the hands of Federer at Halle.

Zverev To Face Federer At Halle Open

Twenty-year-old German Alexander Zverev defeated Richard Gasquet at the Halle Open in Germany on Saturday.

His hard fought three set win means Zverev now goes on to face Roger Federer in a rematch of last year’s semi-final, which the German won.

Zverev booked his second successive final spot when he beat Frenchman Gasquet 4-6 6-4 6-3.

Gasquet, a two-time Wimbledon semi-finalist, grabbed the first set against Zverev with a break at 5-4.

But he quickly fell behind in the second as Zverev, a finalist last year, who has already won three titles in 2017, charged to a 4-2 lead and held on to take the set.

Roger Federer,
Federer

The world number 12 booked his final spot after breaking at 3-3 and finishing the Frenchman off with another break to set up the showdown with Federer.

On the forthcoming clash with Federer, Zverev said, “Well, it’s a final. He’s playing really good tennis. It’s going to be a very tough match. I’ll prepare myself the best I can, but he’s definitely the favourite in that match.”

Zverev Beats Djokovic For Rome Title

Alexander Zverev has won the biggest match of his life, dismissing world No. 2 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 in the Rome Masters final.

The 20-year-old outplayed Djokovic, controlling play from the back of the court with his fluid two-handed backhand and heavy forehand.

Zverev becomes the youngest masters 1,000 titlist since a 19-year-old Djokovic won the 2007 Miami Open.

He will break into the top 10 when the new rankings are released on Monday.

Australian Open: Nadal, Raonic Qualify For Last 16

Milos Raonic , Rafael Nadal, Australian OpenFormer champion Rafael Nadal has beaten Alexander Zverev to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open.

The 30-year-old, who won the title in 2009, overcame his opponent in a gripping contest to qualify for the last 16 stage of the competition in Melbourne.

He came through 4-6 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-2 in four hours and six minutes on Saturday.

Nadal, will play France’s Gael Monfils, who also beat Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3 7-6 (7-1) 6-4.

Canada’s Milos Raonic has also cruised to the next round with a 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 6-3 win over France’s Gilles Simon.