In a big upset, Spaniard Rafael Nadal is not present for Sunday’s final in Madrid. Instead, we have two of the top candidates to be the next player to breakthrough and win their first major title.
Alexander Zverev vs. Dominic Thiem
For 21-year-old Zverev, this is his fourth career Masters 1000 final. All of these have come within the past year, and he already has two Masters titles, including one on clay in Rome last year. That success has brought him to a career-high number three in the world. A win here may help him to finally translate that success over to the majors. He is yet to advance further than the fourth round at a Grand Slam event, though it seems only a matter of time (and not much time at that) before that changes. Zverev is yet to drop a set this week, and he’s on an eight-match winning streak after taking the title last week in Munich.
For 24-year-old Thiem, this is his second career Masters 1000 final. His only previous appearance came last year at this same event, where he lost in two tight sets to Nadal. The Austrian has been the second best clay court player over the past few years. He’s a two-time French Open semifinalist, and owns multiple clay victories over not only Nadal but also Novak Djokovic. Following his defeat of Nadal earlier this week, he seems like the player with the best chance to compete with Rafa at Roland Garros. Thiem toughed out two very tight matches in his first two rounds this week, but played stellar tennis against both Nadal and Kevin Anderson.
Thiem owns a 4-1 record against Zverev, including all three times they’ve played on clay. They haven’t played in over a year, and Zverev is a much more complete player today. None of their previous matches have been straight sets, so this has the potential to be a highly competitive and compelling final. This is a tough one to call, as both come into this final playing with a lot of confidence. If Thiem is hitting his shots on Sunday as well as did the past two days, his big game could overwhelm and frustrate Zverev. Dominic will be hungry to win his first title at this level, especially against his younger opponent who already has two. His past success against Zverev, especially on clay, should prove valuable and propel him to the biggest title of his career.
Five things to know about the men’s final
- Zverev is bidding to become only the fifth active player to win three tour titles at Masters level. Joining Rafael Nadal (31), Novak Djokovic (30), Roger Federer (27) and Andy Murray (14).
- Should Thiem win, he would become the First Austrian to win a Masters title since Thomas Muster at the 1997 Miami Open.
- So far in the Madrid tournament, Thiem has dropped his serve seven times. Zverev is yet to be broken, winning all 38 of his service games. On the other hand, Thiem has hit more aces at 19-14.
- Heading into the final, both players have won 25 matches on the tour so far this season. Thiem has a win-loss record of 25-6 (16-3 on the clay). Meanwhile, Zverev’s stands at 25-7 (12-2 on clay).
- Whoever wins will become the first player from their country to win the Madrid trophy (male or female).
The head-to-head record
2016 Munich (Germany on clay) – Thiem won 4-6 6-2 6-3
2016 Nice (France on clay) – Thiem won 6-4 3-6 6-0
2016 Roland Garros (France on clay) – Thiem won 6-7(4) 6-3 6-3 6-3
2016 Beijing (China on hardcourt) – Zverev won 4-6 6-1 6-3
2017 Rotterdam (Netherlands on hardcourt) – Thiem won 3-6 6-3 6-4
Zverev leads 4-1
The men’s final will take place on Sunday at 18:30 local time (GMT+1).
Coco Gauff reaches her maiden WTA final at the age of 15 in Linz
US 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff cruised past German former top 10 player Andrea Petkovic 6-4 6-4 after 91 minutes to reach her maiden WTA singles final at the Upper Austria Ladies Open in Linz.
Gauff lost in the final round of the qualifying tournament but she claimed her spot in the main draw as a lucky loser. After entering the main draw as a lucky loser Gauff scored three wins over Stefanie Voegele, Kateryna Kozlova, Kiki Bertens and Andrea Petkovic consolidating her spot in the top 100.
Gauff saved nine of the ten break points she faced and won 71 % of her second serve points.
Petkovic earned the first break of the match in Gauff’s opening game, but Gauff broke straight back in the second game with a passing shot down the line in the next game. After holding serve Gauff earned two break points. The US teenager broke serve in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead after a backhand error from Perkovic. Gauff earned three set points in the 10th game and converted her first chance after a netted return from Petkovic.
Gauff faced three break points at 2-1, but she held on her serve to draw level to 2-2. The US player converted her sixth break point chance to take a 3-2 lead after a double fault from Petkovic.
Gauff saved two break points with a volley and a drop-shot, when she served for the match at 5-4, and sealed the win on her second match point.
Gauff set up a final against 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko, who came back from one set down to beat last year’s Linz finalist Ekaterina Alexandrova 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-5. Ostapenko fended off one match points at 6-5 in the second set and two more match points at 5-4 in the third set of the 2-hour and 21-minute match.
Alexandrova broke serve twice in the second and sixth games to take the opening set 6-1. The Russian player fired an ace on her second set point to seal the first set after 30 minutes.
Alexandrova went up an early break to build up a 3-1 lead. Ostapenko broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Alexandrova fended off three break points to draw level to 4-4. Alexandrova broke serve at love to take a 5-4 lead earning the chance to serve for the match. Alexandrova hit an ace to earn her first match point, but she did not convert her chance, as she sent her backhand long. Ostapenko broke serve to draw level to 5-5 setting up a tie-break. Ostapenko earned her first set point at 5-5 in the tie-break, as Alexandrova missed a forehand wide. Ostapenko sealed the second set to force the match to the third set, as Ostapenko fired a service return wide.
Both players traded breaks in the first and second games of the decisive set. Alexandrova fired a forehand crosscourt winner in the 10th game to earn two match points, but she made unforced errors to miss both her chances. Ostapenko hit a forehand winner to draw level to 5-5. Alexandrova saved a match point at 6-5 with a return winner, but Ostapenko sealed the win on her second match point.
Alexander Zverev Boosts ATP Finals Chances After Reaching Shanghai Final
Alexander Zverev boosted his chances of reaching the ATP Finals after reaching the Shanghai final.
Alexander Zverev has boosted his chances of qualifying for the ATP Finals after defeating Matteo Berrettini 6-3 6-4 in the Shanghai semi-finals.
It was a routine performance from the German as he only lost seven points on his serve to reach the Shanghai Rolex Masters final.
After losing in the semi-finals last year to Novak Djokovic, Zverev wasn’t going to make the same mistake in 2019 as he broke in each set to claim victory.
In his post-match interview with atptour.com, the 22 year-old admitted it was a great feeling to win today, “It feels great, obviously,” Zverev explained.
“I felt like I’ve played some decent tennis this week and being in a Masters 1000 final here in Shanghai is also something very special for me. I’m looking forward to it and hopefully I can play some good tennis tomorrow.”
The win now means that Zverev has opened up a 330 point lead between him and his opponent today, who is in eighth place in the race.
This is crucial for the German if he wants to defend the ATP Finals crown that he won last year when he beat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic back-to-back.
Tomorrow, he will play in-form Daniil Medvedev in his sixth Masters 1000 final and although he leads their head-to-head 4-0, he is taking nothing for granted, “We’ve played some fantastic matches, all going my way until now,” Zverev said.
“I hope tomorrow that will not change. But he’s been playing some fantastic tennis, sixth final in a row, US Open finalist, won Cincinnati.
“He’s probably the best player in the world right now. I hope it’s just going to be a good match tomorrow.”
Both men are looking for their first Shanghai title as well as momentum heading into the season-finale in London next month.
Heather Watson sets up final against Rebecca Peterson in Tianjin
Unseeded players Rebecca Peterson and Heather Watson set up a final at the Tianjin Open WTA Tournament.
Rebecca Peterson came back from one set down to beat Ons Jabeur 0-6 6-4 7-5 after 2 hours and 9 minutes.
Jabeur won all the first five games, which went to deuce, and closed out the opening set with a bagel with a hold at 30 in the sixth game.
Peterson bounced back in the second set by breaking serve twice in the eighth and tenth game to clinch the second set 6-4.
Jabeur got an early break to open up a 3-1 lead. Peterson broke back in the sixth game and saved a break point in the ninth game. The Swedish player closed out the match with a break at 6-5.
“Today was a really tough match. She played well, I could not find my rhythm and I had to fight for every point, so I am happy that I got the win at the end. At the end of the season, everyone feels that their body is sore and they are tired. I am going to recover as well as I can and for sure I will be ready for tomorrow”,said Peterson.
World number 125 Heather Watson cruised past Veronika Kudemertova 6-1 6-4 after 1 hour and 14 minutes to reach her fourth WTA final and the first since Monterrey 2016. Watson dropped nine points in nine service games and saved all three break point chances she faced.
The British player broke serve twice in the second and sixth games to close out the first set 6-1 after 25 minutes. Kudemertova saved two break points in the third game of the second set before Watson got the break to take a 3-2 lead. Watson saved three break points in the sixth game to hold on her service game. Kudemertova fended off two match points on serve before Watson closed out the match with a hold at 30.
“Yesterday was a really tough match and I think all those hours on court helped me play well today, so it was a good thing. It’s my first time here in Tianjin, so it’s a great first experience for me. I am looking forward to playing the final and hopefully I can play as well as I managed today”,said Watson.
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