LONDON: Alexander Zverev has kept his chances of claiming a second consecutive ATP Finals title alive after downing Daniil Medvedev in a crucial match.
The world No.7 rallied to a 6-4, 7-6(4), victory in what was a must-win match for the German player. Who was on the brink of exiting the event as a result of Rafael Nadal’s win earlier in the day. The key to Zverev’s win was his trusted serve as he didn’t face a single break point in the 77-minute match. On top of that, he hit 21 winners and eight aces.
“This arena at The O2 is probably where I play my best tennis.” Said Zverev.
“The atmosphere here is something we (the players) don’t play in at all anywhere else in the world. This is so special to us.”
Resting on this match was the prospect of Roger Federer locking horns with nemesis Rafael Nadal for the 41st time. In order for that to occur, it was up to Medvedev to clinch a win. However, Zverev had his own plans as he extended his winning head-to-head record against the Russian to 5-1.
“He had nothing to lose. It was his last (ATP) match of the season and he could just enjoy the tennis, the atmosphere, and the stadium. And for me, it was a must-win situation to go through.”
It was a substandard Medvedev service game at the start of the match which would elevate Zverev to an early advantage as he broke instantly. Fortunately for the rowdy crowd at the 18,500 capacity arena, the Russian did manage to elevate the level of his game. Although it was still not good enough to derail Zverev from clinching the opener after just 33 minutes of play. A 141 mph serve down the center of the court from the 22-year-old forced another error from his rival to generate a set point chance. Zverev then converted after an attempted down the line shot from Medvedev backfired.
Despite clinching the lead, it was by no means a foregone conclusion for Zverev. Who had to contend with some stern play across the court. There was little difference between the two players throughout the second set. In the end, it would be a tiebreak that separated them. At the worst possible time, a Medvedev double fault enabled Zverev to break for 5-3. Once again in control of proceedings, he held his nerve to close the match out with an ace down the center of the court. Prompting a huge roar from Zverev as he paid tribute to his rival moments after.
“He was probably the best player in the world over the summer. Making it to six straight finals is unbelievable. You haven’t seen that (on the tour) for a long time.” He commented on Medvedev’s season.
“I think next year he is going to be very dangerous.”
Zverev finishes second in the Andre Agassi Group. He will play rival and friend Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals on Saturday. A player who he trails 2-5 in their head-to-head.
“Playing against your friend means you have both done incredibly well throughout the whole year and this week. It’s a great honor to play against him.” He reflected.
Should he defend his title this week, Zverev would become the first player outside of the Big Three to do so since Lleyton Hewitt (2001-2002).
Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win
Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.
Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.
This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.
“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”
The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.
Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.
This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.
Denis Shapovalov Advances After Pospisil Retires In Indian Wells
The battle of the two Canadians didn’t go as planned…
Vasek Pospisil faced off against his fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and it was the world number 13 who got the win after the Vernon native pulled out due to an injury whilst trailing 0-3.
It was a rough start for Pospisil who seemed to struggle with his serve in the opening game of the match and double-faulted twice in a row to give the early break and Shapovalov had no issues consolidating the break.
Shapovalov continued to apply pressure on the Pospisil serve and after saving two breakpoints the world number 68 pulled up after a serve and stopped play, calling for the trainer. He ended up taking a medical timeout off the court and a couple of minutes later returned to court. Pospisil was broken once again and the following game after a couple of returns decided to call it quits.
” It was pretty awful…and if I’m being honest I am shaking a bit…It really sucks I hope it’s nothing serious…He’s a great guy he’s a real warrior he’s fought back from some injuries surgeries to such a great level.” Shapovalov said of his compatriot.
Shapovalov will face 19th seed Aslan Karatsev in the next round after the Russian thrashed Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 6-0.
In the other results of the day sixth seeed Casper Ruud dominated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2, Roberto Bautista Agut beat the Argentine Guido Pella 7-5, 6-3 and Sebastien Korda won an all American battle with Frances Tiafoe 6-0, 6-4.
Finally, Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to beat another American in Maxime Cressy winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.
Stefanos Tsitsipas Sidesteps Question Over Vaccination Status
The Greek also jokes that he will be having less bathroom breaks in Indian Wells due to one particular reason.
Stefanos Tsitsipas has declined to confirm if he has received a COVID-19 vaccination despite previously saying he planned to do so later this year.
The world No.3 was questioned about the vaccination during his pre-tournament press conference at Indian Wells on Wednesday. Earlier this year Tsitsipas came under fire after saying he doesn’t see a reason why somebody his age needs to be vaccinated and expressed concerns over the potential side effects. He also added that young people catching COVID-19 is a good thing as it helps build up their immunity. Prompting criticism from various people, including a spokesperson for the Greek government.
However, in recent weeks Tsitsipas has changed his stance on the issue and recently told Antenna TV that he will have his first dose by the end of this year. When asked by a reporter in Indian Wells if he has had it yet, the French Open finalist declined to answer.
“I’m sorry but I’m not able to provide any of my medical records,” he said.
Player vaccination rates in tennis are becoming a growing issue amid reports that the Australian Open may only allow fully vaccinated players to participate due to a health mandate which has been implemented by the local government. There is yet to be a formal announcement by Tennis Australia regarding their entry requirements. However, The Age newspaper reports that there is a ‘strong likelihood’ that only vaccinated players will be allowed entry by Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.
Tsitsipas’ immediate focus is on this week’s BNP Paribas Open where he is the second seed behind Daniil Medvedev. Speaking about the conditions, the 23-year-old joked it was ‘very dry’ and therefore he will be having less bathroom breaks during matches. Referring to the recent criticism he has received from some of his peers over the timing of breaks he takes.
“It’s very dry here,” Tsitsipas said.
“That is good for me because I sweat less, which makes for less bathroom breaks, which makes for less complaints. So a very good sign so far,” he added with a smile.
The hope for Tsitsipas is that he will be able to build on his recent experience at the Laver Cup where he helped Europe secure their fourth consecutive title. The event provides players with the opportunity to work alongside each other in a team format. Something Tsitsipas relished but he is ready to get back to singles duty.
“I think team competitions are necessary for our sport and we don’t get to be united a lot,” he said. “We always kind of focus on ourselves and our things and environment and that is what you usually see on Tour. Players doing their own thing. Not much socialising.
“At the Laver Cup, we all get to have dinners together and all get to hang out with each other. Of course, though, we all have our competitiveness and if we get stuck around we might share too much with one another, that is the mentality behind it.”
Tsitsipas is yet to win a main draw match in Indian Wells. He will start his 2021 bid against either qualifier Roberto Marcora or Spain’s Pedro Martinez.
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