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).
Dominic Thiem reaches his first quarter final at the Australian Open
Dominic Thiem eased past Gael Monfils 6-2 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 50 minutes on the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open. Thiem has extended his winning streak to 6-0 in his head-to-head matches against Monfils.
He fought back from two sets to one down to beat Australia’s Alex Bolt in the second round, but he won eight of his past nine sets to advance to the quarter finals.
Thiem got two breaks in the first set and never faced a single break point in the entire match. The Austrian player converted his fourth break point after three deuces, as Monfils missed a backhand volley wide. Thiem started the third set with an early break in the first game, as Monfils hit an inside-out forehand wide from the middle of the court wide. Thiem won his next service games and held his final game at love.
Thiem will face Rafael Nadal in a re-match of last year’s Roland Garros final.
“I think that I played my best match so far at this year’s Australian Open. It’s a very good feeling. The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and I was managing to hold my serve well. I am so happy because I am in the quarter final here for the first time”, said Thiem.
Alexander Zverev tops Andrey Rublev to set Australian Open quarter final against Stan Wawrinka
Alexander Zverev beat his friend Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open for the first time in his career and his third at Grand Slam level.
Zverev broke serve once in each set. The German player has not dropped a set at this year’s edition of the Australian Open.
Zverev ended Rublev’s 15-match winning streak. Rublev had not lost a match since October, winning four matches at the Davis Cup last November and back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide.
In the opening set Zverev earned his first break at 3-3, as Rublev hit a forehand into the net. He held his serve to consolidate the break and wrapped up the first set after 29 minutes, when Rublev hit a crosscourt backhand wide.
Zverev started the second set with an immediate break in the first game of the second set and closed it out with a hold at love with an ace after 29 minutes.
Zverev broke serve for the third time in the match in the ninth game of the third set to take a 5-4, when Rublev made a groundstroke error, and sealed the win with a forehand volley.
“It feels amazing. I played some great matches against some great opponents. This is Andrey’s first loss of the season, having won two tournaments and getting through to the fourth round with unbelievable tennis. I have known Andrey since we were ten years old. I think he will be top 15, top 10 very soon. I am just happy and I hope I can continue”,said Zverev.
Zverev will face Stan Wawrinka in the quarter final. The German star beat Wawrinka twice in their previous two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.
Stan Wawrinka edges Danil Medvedev in a five-set thriller to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open
Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka reached the quarter final at the Australian Open for the fifth time in his career with a 6-2 2-6 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2 win over fourth seed and 2019 US Open finalist Danil Medvedev after 3 hours and 25 minutes. Wawrinka qualified for the last eight for the first time since 2017.
Wawrinka earned his first break in the fourth game, when Medvedev sent his backhand long. Wawrinka did not convert two more break points in the sixth game before breaking for the second time at love to close out the opening set 6-2 after 32 minutes. Wawrinka won 85% of his first serve points and hit 16 winners to 8 unforced errors in the opening set.
Medvedev broke in the third game of the second set to open up a 3-1 lead, when Wawrinka netted his forehand. The Russian player clinched the second set with three service winners at 5-2 to level the score.
Medvedev broke serve in the seventh game of the third set after a backhand error from Wawrinka and closed out the set with a service winner in the 10th game.
Wawrinka wasted a break point in the fourth game of the fourth set. Both players traded service holds en route to the tie-break. Wawrinka earned an immediate mini-break to open up a 3-0 lead in the tie-break. The former Australian Open champion hit a half-volley winner to cruise to a 5-2 lead and converted his first set point, when Medvedev netted a backhand in the ninth point.
Wawrinka broke Medvedev at 15 in the first game of the fifth set and saved three break points at 2-1. Wawrinka went up a double break in the seventh game and forced an error from Medvedev to wrap up the match, as he was serving for the win in the eighth game.
Wawrinka set up a quarter final against Alexander Zverev, who beat Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4. Zverev beat Wawrinka twice in their two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.
“That was an amazing match and an amazing atmosphere. It was really tough to play against Danil. It was really tough to play against Danil. I had to raise my level in the fourth and fifth sets. The level was super high and the atmosphere is something special here in Australia. I am finding solutions. I was losing a bit of confidence in the second and third sets, and was fighting against myself to play my game. I had to fight, stay positive and I am happy with the result”,said Wawrinka.
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