Madrid Open Preview: History Beckons As Alexander Zverev Faces Thiem In The Men's Final - UBITENNIS
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Madrid Open Preview: History Beckons As Alexander Zverev Faces Thiem In The Men’s Final

The two will lock horns for the sixth time on Sunday in what will be a historic occasion for both players.

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Alexander Zverev (zimbio.com)

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

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  1. 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).
  2. Should Thiem win, he would become the First Austrian to win a Masters title since Thomas Muster at the 1997 Miami Open.
  3. 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.
  4. 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).
  5. 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).

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Kevin Anderson saves a match point to beat Nikoloz Basilashvili in Vienna

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This year’s   Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson came back from one set down to edge past this year’s Hamburg and Beijing champion Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 in the first round of the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.  

Basilashvili faced just two break points in the first two sets and earned a match point at 6-5 in the tie-break of the second set, but Anderson reeled off the final three points of the tie-break to force the match to the third set. The South-African player, who is currently ranked seventh in the ATP Race to London and is in contention for a qualifting spot for the ATP Finals, saved six of the seven break points he faced and earned two consecutive breaks in the seventh and ninth game to close out the third set 6-3.

Anderson set up a second round match against Jurgen Melzer, who battled past Milos Raonic 7-6 (8-6) 7-5. Melzer saved a break point in both the fifth and seventh games before getting the only break in the 12th game to seal the win.

This year’s Shanghai finalist and Indian Wells semifinalist Borna Coric rallied from one set down to beat Albert Ramos Vinolas 6-7 (5-7) 6-0 6-4. Ramos Vinolas got the first break at love in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Coric broke  back in the 10th game on his third break point to draw level to 5-5. Ramos Vilolas rallied from 4-5 by winning three consecutive points to seal the first set tie-break 7-5. Coric broke three times to take a bagel win in the second set forcing the match to the decider. After saving three break points in the fourth game Coric got the decisive break at 15 in the ninth game to close out the match.

Marton Fucsovics fought back from one set down to beat Canadian Next Gen player Felix Auger Aliassime 1-6 6-0 7-5.

Russian lucky loser Andrey Rublev edged US qualifier Denis Kudla 7-6 (7-3) 6-0.

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Marin Cilic cruises past Denis Shapovalov in Basel first round

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Third seed Marin Cilic cruised past Denis Shapovalov 6-4 6-2 to advance to the second round at the Swiss Indoor Open at St. Jakobshalle in Basel.

Cilic went up a double break in the first and third games to race out to a 4-0 lead. Schapovalov pulled one break back in the sixth game at deuce and held his serve at 30 to close the gap to 3-4. Cilic did not face any break points in his final two service games to close the first set 6-4 after 41 minutes.

Cilic went up an immediate break at 15 in the opening game of the second set after a forehand error from Shapovalov to open up a 3-1 lead. Shapovalov saved a break point with a service winner to hold his serve at deuce for 2-3. Cilic sealed the win with a double break in the seventh game at 30 with a double fault from Shapovalov and hold of serve at 15 in the 8th game. Shapovalov made 23 unforced errors in the second set.

Cilic will face either Marius Copil or Ryan Harrison in the second round. The 30-year-old Croatian player won the Basel title in 2016 and reached the semifinal in 2017. This year he won the Queen’s title and reached the final at the Australian Open. The number 3 seed is one of the three top 10 players in a line-up which also features home star Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev. In the second round the Basel-born 20-time Grand Slam legend could face John Millman, who will open his campaign against Jan-Lennard Struff. Millman upset Federer in the fourth round at this year’s US Open.

Swiss player Henri Laaksonen beat this year’s Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato 6-4 6-2 to score his first win against a top-25 player. Laaksonen needed a break at deuce in the ninth game to win the first set. The Swiss player converted his third break point chance in the third game of the second set and saved a break point to hold his serve to open up a 3-1 lead. He sealed the win with a double break in the seventh game at deuce and a hold of serve at 30 in the final game.

Elsewhere Taylor Fritz beat Serbian qualifier Laslo Djere 7-5 6-0.

The Basel line-up features three players who recently showed good form: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Danil Medvedev and Adrian Mannarino. Tsitsipas won his maiden ATP title in Stockolm. Medvedev won his third trophy of year in three different continents (Sydney, Winston Salem and Tokyo). Manarino lost in the Moscow final against Karen Khachanov.

 

 

 

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Kiki Bertens Grabs 11th Top Ten Win On WTA Finals Debut

Kiki Bertens sealed an 11th top ten win today as she beat Angelique Kerber on her WTA Finals debut.

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Kiki Bertens (zimbio.com)

Kiki Bertens keeps on making history as she sealed an 11th top ten win of her career with a 1-6 6-3 6-4 win over Angelique Kerber on her WTA Finals debut. 

The Dutchwoman completed victory in two hours as she sealed her 11th top ten win since Madrid this year by defeating Kerber.

Despite a good start, Kerber ultimately lost the match and will face Naomi Osaka on Wednesday in order to stay in the group.

The result means that for the first time since 2003, all opening Round Robin matches have seen the lower-ranked player win.

The Wimbledon champion started the contest well, playing aggressively and with confidence as she was used to the big occasion. While Bertens looked a little bit nervous as this was her debut at the WTA Finals.

The German’s control and poise throughout the first set was certainly impressive and that showed in the score-line as she effortlessly took the opening set 6-1.

Despite splitting with her coach Wim Fissette just before the WTA Finals, Kerber showed no signs of fear or doubt as she broke at the start of the second set.

However a talk from coach, Raemon Sluiter seemed to inspire the Dutchwoman as she started to take the ball earlier especially on Kerber’s second serve.

With confidence, Bertens broke twice in the set and dealt a crucial blow in the eighth game as she served to force a deciding set.

The eighth held to 15 and secured the second set in 39 minutes to raise hopes of securing another top 10 victory.

There were six breaks at the start of the final set as both women looked to be aggressive on return and stamp there authority in this crucial Red Group match.

This was before a confident Bertens showed some fierce on-court play as Kerber’s defence finally broke down and could no longer prevent the Dutchwoman’s attack.

The German tried to grab the break back but it wasn’t enough as a stubborn Bertens secured victory at 00:30 at night. The win is Bertens’ 11th top ten win of her career and will now play Sloane Stephens on Wednesday, with a straight sets win guaranteeing her qualification.

As for the German she will look to bounce back against US Open champion Naomi Osaka, with a win needed t9o give her any hopes of reaching the last four.

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