Alexander Zverev beats Thiem to win the Mutua Madrid Open - UBITENNIS
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Alexander Zverev beats Thiem to win the Mutua Madrid Open

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Mutua Madrid Open - Day Nine

 

Alexander Zverev has won the Madrid Open title with a comprehensive 6-4 6-4 victory over Dominic Thiem in just 78 minutes here at La Caja Majica.

Mutua Madrid Open - Day Nine

It was a display of utter dominance and authority by the 20 year old, second seeded German who was once again invulnerable on serve. Having not dropped his delivery all week, he held serve from start to finish, breaking the Thiem serve at the start of each set.

The fifth seeded Austrian held a 4-1 record against Zverev coming into the match, which included a perfect 3-0 record on clay. However, the two had not played on clay since 2016, and back then Zverev had managed to win a set in each of the losing encounters, and he has grown exponentially in stature as a competitor since then. Thiem was searching for his first Masters 1000 title having lost in the final of Madrid last year to Rafael Nadal, and having put out the defending champion in the quarter-finals this year, he was fancied to win the title and become the first Austrian to win a Masters 1000 since the former world No.1 Thomas Muster won Miami in 1997.

The 24 year old Austrian held 9 career titles against Zverev’s 7, with an ATP ranking of 7 to Zverev’s ranking of 3.

Zverev now has three Masters 1000 titles having won his first Masters 1000 in Rome last year beating Novak Djokovic and following that up with a second in Montreal where he accounted for Roger Federer in the final. Although he unexpectedly faltered in the final of the Miami Open final against John Isner, he was not going to allow another to slip through his fingers in quick succession.

Thiem started the match nervously with two off forehands going well wide to go two break points down, after Zverev had stepped in and crunched a menacing forehand return winner up the line that must have had the Austrian shaking in his boots. A double fault handed the German an immediate break of serve, and the grateful Zverev never in turn offered so much as a sniff of a break point throughout the remainder of the set. He closed out the 32 minute set on his second set point with a roar of “Come on!” as Thiem’s mistimed forehand return off a short second serve sailed well long.

Thiem started the second set on serve just as tentatively as he had started the first, with unforced errors flowing from his racket after Zverev had opened up with a forehand cross court winner that clipped the side line. The German wasted no time in converting his break point opportunity when he ran around his backhand and thumped a ferocious forehand up the line which the scurrying Austrian at full stretch on his forehand wing was powerless to return. Zverev let out a scream of elation as the sight of a first trophy in the Spanish capital beckoned.

Although Thiem managed to push Zverev to deuce on his serve at 2-3 down, the German quickly battened down the hatches with a huge service winner up the centre and duly held for 4-2.

Thiem did well to force Zverev to serve out for the match when he came back from a 0-30 deficit with a backhand winner up the line and two consecutive aces which the swaggering German grudgingly conceded on inspection.

He would not be denied on serve however. He closed out for his first Madrid Open title with the kind of authority he has shown all week; setting up championship point with a delightful serve and forehand drop volley winner and sending a ball flying out of the Manolo Santana Stadium when he won championship point as Thiem’s attempted backhand chip return sailed long.

Thiem was magnanimous in defeat at the presentation ceremony, acknowledging his opponent as a worthy champion.

“Congratulations to Alex. You were very impressive and you were obviously the best player this week”, Thiem said. “Very well done and also to your team. You were great!”

“Losing a final is always really difficult and tough, but still I made two finals in a row here and so I obviously feel really comfortable and great in Madrid. Everybody who makes this tournament amazing, thank you for that.”

Zverev was quick to praise the titanic efforts of his vanquished opponent who had removed the biggest obstacle to his title aspirations.

“I want to congratulate Dominic on an amazing week. Beating Rafa (Nadal) in Spain on clay is an amazing achievement. Not many people have done that, so credit to you and also to your team. You guys are doing great. I’m very sure in the future you are going to win multiple of these events.”

“I want to thank my team as well. Without them nothing would be possible. We spend three hours a day in the gym trying to build some muscle which you still can’t see on me”, he said laughing. “But we are getting there slowly.”

My dad is the most important person in my team. Making me grow up, not only on the court, but the man who I am today is a lot because of you and because of my brother who is already in Rome, and because of my mum who is at home right now. Everything I do on court, you are probably the biggest reason for it. Thanks a lot for that.”

 

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‘He Did Everything I did, Only Better’ – Pat Rafter Names The Toughest Rival Of His Career

The two-time grand slam champion opens up about his toughest rivalry as he predicts a bleak outlook for the 2020 tennis season.

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Former world No.1 Pat Rafter has named an American tennis legend as the player who he struggled the most against throughout his professional career.

 

The 47-year-old was a star of Australian tennis during his playing days after achieving a series of milestones. His accolades include becoming the first player from his country in 28 years to reach the top of the ATP rankings in 1999 and becoming the first man to win the Rogers Cup, Cincinnati Masters and US Open within the same year. Rafter is also the last player outside of the Big Three to have won back-to-back US Open titles after triumphing in 1997 and 1998.

Despite his successes, there was one player that caused him difficulty. Rafter played Pete Sampras 16 times on the ATP Tour, but could only win four of those encounters. At one stage he lost to the 14-time grand slam champion eight times in a row.

“The toughest player I played against was definitely Pete Sampras – he did everything I did, only better.” Rafter told Eurosport.
“His record was the best so there’s no doubt about it Sampras the stand-out. I enjoyed playing Andre Agassi the most – I thought we had a really good battle, I really enjoyed playing him.”

The rivalry between the two was tense at times. Highlighted best by their encounter in the 1998 US Open semifinals. Sampras complained of a quadriceps injury following his loss to the Australian. Prompting Rafter to famously say ‘he’s becoming a bit of a crybaby.’ A few months before that comment, he admitted that his relationship with the American wasn’t solid by saying ‘We’re not the best of mates. I wouldn’t go out for a beer with him, put it that way.’

22 years on from the verbal exchange between the two, Rafter now describes it as a thing of the past. Insisting that his rival never took what he said to him ‘personally.’

“I can’t remember the exact words, but we had a run-in in Cincinnati one year – I probably told him to grow up.” He recounted.
“He cracked it when I beat him one time. But that was back in the old days, emotions were running high and don’t take it personally. It’s all good.”

No tennis in 2020

Besides reminiscing about his playing career with Eurosport, Rafter has also predicted a bleak outlook for this year’s tour. All professional tournaments have been suspended until July 13th due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first time since 1945 Wimbledon has been cancelled due to the situation.

Many are now speculating as to when it will be possible for the tour to resume. The US Open is still optimistic that they can hold their tournament as scheduled later this summer. Meanwhile, the French Open is set to be played during the later part of September. However, Rafter doubts that either of those tournaments will happen.

“No, I think this (the virus) is going to be around for a long time.” Rafter commented on the chances of the 2020 season resuming. “Until they get a vaccine I can’t see how anyone is going to be playing.’
“Personally, I think it’ll be like the flu and we’ll have to get used to it.”

Potentially one solution for the tournaments would be to host matches without spectators. In order to minimise the risk of the virus spreading. An approach that has already been taken by other sports such as football. However, Wimbledon refused to consider that option this year.

“I think they could. No spectators. Sure. No ball-boys – I’d love to see the players pick up the balls themselves!” he concluded.

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‘Don’t Be Afraid’ – Nick Kyrgios Offers Support To Those Struggling During Covid-19 Pandemic

The bad boy of tennis says he will support those in need by delivering essential supplies.

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Former top 20 player Nick Kyrgios has urged members of the public to reach out to him if they require any help during the covid-19 pandemic in a social media post.

 

The two-time grand slam quarter-finalist has offered to deliver food to those who are struggling during the current crises, which has suspended the ATP and WTA Tours until at least July. It is estimated by economists that more than 500,000 people in Kyrgios’ home country of Australia will lose their jobs due to the outbreak. There have been more than one million cases of the coronavirus worldwide with many countries currently placed in a lockdown in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

‘If ANYONE is not working/not getting an income and runs out of food, or times are just tough… please don’t go to sleep with an empty stomach,’ Kyrgios wrote on Instagram.
‘Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I will be more than happy to share whatever I have.
‘Even just for a box of noodles, a loaf of bread or some milk. I will drop it off at your doorstep, no questions asked.’

In Australia there have been 5687 cases of Coronavirus as of Sunday which has resulted in 34 deaths. This is according to figures provided by chief medical officer Professor Brendan Murphy.

It is not the first time Kyrgios has offered to support those in need. Earlier this year he was an instrumental figure in helping raising money for the Australian bushfire appeal. Donating AUS$200 for every ace produced during the first month of the season and participating in a series of exhibition matches. According to 7 News, Kyrgios raised in the region of AUS$100,000 for the bushfire fund.

Kyrgios is currently ranked 40th in the world and has won six out of his nine matches played earlier this season. At the Australian Open he reached the fourth round before falling in four sets to Rafael Nadal.

 

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Diego Schwartzman On Playing The Big Three And Who He Believes Is The Best

The top-20 player pays tribute to the three tennis legends as he cast his vote in the greatest of all time debate.

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When it comes to taking on the Big Three in tennis, Diego Schwartzman is perhaps one of the best players to provide an insight into how frustrating it can be.

 

The Argentine world No.13 has played a member of the illustrious trio no less than 18 times in his career, but is yet to gain a single victory to his name. Consisting of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, the big three have dominated men’s tennis in recent years. Between them, they have won the last 13 grand slams and at least one of them has featured in 58 out of the past 60 major finals. Since February 2004, Andy Murray is the only player outside of the group to have held the No.1 position.

Schwzrtman’s record against the big guns has seen him lose to Nadal nine times as well as succumbing to both Djokovic and Federer on four occasions. Nevertheless, the three-time grand slam quarter-finalist isn’t bitter as he hails their achievements in the sport.

“Against Nadal you always come in hope of giving him a fight on any day and on any surface, but you quickly realize that it is almost impossible to defeat him.” Schwartzman said during an Instagram live chat with journalist Danny Miche.
“Djokovic makes me feel that in the second game of service I no longer have lungs. It’s unbelievable.’
“Federer gives you more air (time), but you don’t seem to know how to play tennis. It’s amazing how he hits the ball.’
“The three are unbelievable, in different ways.”

There is also the ongoing debate as to who should be named the greatest of all time. Each player has their own credentials. Federer currently has the all-time lead for most grand slam titles at 20. Nadal has won more ATP tournaments on the clay than any other player in history. Meanwhile, current world No.1 Djokovic has won more prize money in the sport than any other player – male or female.

Weighing on the debate, Schwartzman has given the edge to Djokovic. Prior to the suspension of the tour due to covid-19, Djokovic started 2020 by winning 18 matches in a row. Claiming titles at the ATP Cup, Australian Open and Dubai Tennis Championships.

“At his best, Djokovic has beaten Rafael Nadal many times on the clay and Roger Federer many times on the grass. So maybe I would say that he is slightly above the other two.” He explained.
“Let’s see if you can reach the records, now it was packed and saw that pace being broken. But Djokovic knows that he has to keep the level, because if he doesn’t win he will win the other two.”

Schwartzman started the year by winning nine out of 14 matches played. His best performance of the season so far took place on home territory when he reached the final of the Cordoba Open before losing to Christian Garin.

The Big Three head-to-head

Djokovic

Nadal

Federer

Djokovic

N/A

29-26

27-23

Nadal

26-29

N/A

24-16

Federer

23-27

16-26

N/A

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