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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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Kyle Edmund And Jack Sock Complete Laver Cup Line-Up

Kyle Edmund and Jack Sock complete the line-up for this year’s Laver Cup.

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Kyle Edmund (zimbio.com)

Kyle Edmund and Jack Sock have completed the line-up for the upcoming Laver Cup, which takes place in Chicago next month. 

The duo were the captain’s picks for both Team Europe and Team World as the Europeans look to defend the title that they won in Prague in the inaugural event last year. The captain of Team Europe, Bjorn Borg had this to say on Edmund, “I’m delighted to welcome Kyle to Team Europe as my final captain’s pick, Kyle is an outstanding young player who’s achieved some great results and big wins over top players. I’m also impressed with his meticulous and methodical approach to the sport and believe he will be a great fit with the team.”

Meanwhile Jack Sock seemed happy to compete in the competition again as he has been picked by John McEnroe, despite his poor singles form, “I can’t wait to play Laver Cup again, It was one of the highlights of the year for me and I’m so excited about playing here in the United States, at home, and in the great sports city of Chicago. The United Center is going to be loud, the crowds will be awesome, and it will be fantastic to have the home support.”

So here are the teams competing to win the Laver Cup in Chicago this year in what is looking like an entertaining weekend:

Team Europe                                                           Team World

Roger Federer                                                                Juan Martin Del Potro

Novak Djokovic                                                             Kevin Anderson

Alexander Zverev                                                          Diego Schwartzman

Grigor Dimitrov                                                             Nick Kyrgios

David Goffin                                                                   John Isner

Kyle Edmund                                                                 Jack Sock

The Laver Cup takes place on the 21st to the 23rd of September, with singles and doubles matches occurring throughout the weekend. The first team to reach 13 points wins the Laver Cup.

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Madrid To Become First Host Of Davis Cup Finals In 2019

Madrid will host the first Davis Cup Finals in 2019, with Lille and Indian Wells to host the next two years.

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Manolo Santana (zimbio.com)

Madrid will become the first host of the new Davis Cup in 2019 as an agreement was reached between the Spanish Federation and Kosmos. 

It was initially thought that Lille would get to host the week long tournament in November next year, with Madrid being tipped to host the competition in 2020. However it looks like Madrid has received the nod ahead of Lille as this was the main reason why the Spanish Federation voted for the new Davis Cup reforms in Orlando last Thursday.

The Madrid city council and representatives of Kosmos have been in long negotiations for the past months as it seems the Spanish city will host the tournament next November. The move means that next year they will host the Mutua Madrid Open on Clay in May and will host the Davis Cup Finals in November on hard courts. The possible venues suggested for the 18 team event next year includes the Caja Magica, where the Madrid Open is held, and the WiZink Center.

The tournament, which has the financial backing of Kosmos which is funded by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, will have 18 teams competing in six round robin groups, 4 quarter-finals, 2 semi-finals and a final. It is expected that world number one Rafael Nadal will compete in the finals as he is one of the few players to back the reforms.

The finals will have 12 qualifiers, 2 wildcards as well as this year’s current semi-finalists, which are France, Spain, USA and Croatia. After Madrid, the venues for the next two years is set to be Lille and Indian Wells. The finals are expected to be controversial, with scheduling problems being the key problem as well as key stars such as Lucas Pouille and Alexander Zverev boycotting the event.

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Petra Kvitova Knocks Off Radwanska In New Haven Blockbuster

The No. 3 seed defeated a fellow former champion in Connecticut.

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Petra Kvitova (zimbio.com)

Petra Kvitova looked like the three-time New Haven champion that she is, racing out to an early lead and doing enough late to hand Agnieszka Radwanska a 6-1, 7-6 defeat in a highly anticipated first round match.

The No. 3 seed dominated from the opening stages. She earned break point in Radwanska’s first service game, then hit a superb backhand winner on break point two games later. The pressure did not stop there, as she pushed Radwanska to deuce at 1-4 and hit two more backhand winners for a double-break edge.

The second of those winners, a low-flying first ball strike that zipped across the net and inside the corner, summed up Kvitova’s early domination. Things worked so well for her the world No. 5 that she converted her first set point despite mishitting a volley.

Kvitova won every point on her first serve in the set, losing just five in the match and winning nearly 60 percent of the Pole’s first serve points.

Radwanska, the 2016 champion in New Haven, did not play poorly but looked all-but-extinguished when Kvitova broke at love to open the second set. But the world No. 39 fought back, breaking on consecutive occasions to go up 3-1, only to double fault on break point and return the set to level terms.

After several near-misses, Kvitova took control in the tiebreak. She secured the decisive mini-break with an aggressive forehand near the net, then closed her victory with another rocketed forehand — her 35th winner of the match.

The Czech player, who may now be the tournament favorite after top seed Simona Halep withdrew earlier Monday, will next meet Zarina Diyas, who beat Maria Sakkari in straight sets.

Elsewhere, Cincinnati semifinalist Aryna Sabalenka continued her blistering summer with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Samantha Stosur. The 20-year-old Belarussian won her fifth match in eight days thanks to exceptional serving — eight aces and an 80 percent first serve win percentage — and struggles from Stosur, who saved only one of four break points and nabbed barely a third of second serve points.

Sabalenka, ranked 25th, staved off break points at 3-3 in the first set, then broke in the next game and saw out the set. She broke Stosur, the US Open winner seven years ago, on consecutive occasions in the second set to cruise home.

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