Zverev shows why he’s a star on the rise

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - SPORTS -

WASH­ING­TON — Past cham­pi­ons whose names line the grand­stands at the Citi Open in­clude An­dre Agassi (five times), Jimmy Con­nors, Ste­fan Ed­berg and Ivan Lendl.

On Sun­day, Alexan­der Zverev showed he might one day be­long among such ex­alted com­pany.

The tal­ented 20-year-old Ger­man picked up early breaks in each set and was never chal­lenged on his serve in a 6-4, 6-4 vic­tory over South African veteran Kevin An­der­son for his fourth ATP ti­tle of the year. That matches Rafael Nadal’s vic­tory to­tal this sea­son and trails only Roger Fed­erer’s five.

The eighth-ranked Zverev dropped his open­ing set in Wash­ing­ton and had to sur­vive a third-set tiebreaker to avoid an up­set in the first round.

He didn’t lose a set af­ter that open­ing match against Jor­dan Thomp­son and grew stronger as the tour­na­ment went on, hav­ing lit­tle trou­ble with the hot and hu­mid con­di­tions and long rain de­lays.

“I feel like the longer the tour­na­ment gets, the bet­ter I start to play,” Zverev said.

The ti­tle was Zverev’s first of his ca­reer on an out­door hard court and gives him mo­men­tum head­ing into the US Open, which starts on Aug 28.

An­der­son, 31, came in with a tour­na­ment-best 62 aces, but Zverev got enough first serves back to give him­self am­ple break op­por­tu­ni­ties. Zverev broke An­der­son early in each set and never faced a break point on his own serve.

The Ger­man played with lit­tle fear, rip­ping hard, flat cross-court back­hands that caught An­der­son off bal­ance. Serv­ing at 4-3, 0-15 in the first set, Zverev hit a 127-mph sec­ond serve for a win­ner, then fol­lowed with a 121-mph ace.

Zverev’s pre­vi­ous ti­tles this year came at a Mas­ters event on clay in Rome, along with wins on clay in Mu­nich and on in­door hard courts in Mont- pel­lier, France.

“I wouldn’t be sur­prised if he wins a few Grand Slams, at any rate,” An­der­son said. “That’s def­i­nitely what the path looks like right now.”

Seek­ing his fourth ca­reer ti­tle and first since 2015, An­der­son looked shaky early on, dou­ble-fault­ing twice and sur­viv­ing two break points in the open­ing game.

Serv­ing at 15-40 at 1-1 in the first set, he hit a short ball deep to Zverev’s back­hand. Zverev got it back and An­der­son hit an over­head into the net.

In the sec­ond set, an er­ror by An­der­son at 30-40 in the first game gave Zverev an­other break, and the Ger­man was hardly chal­lenged from there.

“I was pretty happy with the way I played,” An­der­son said. “Didn’t even get a break point to­day. He played well with the lead in those two sets.”

Zverev’s fa­ther, Alexan­der Sr, is a former tour pro from Rus­sia who now coaches Alexan­der and his older brother, Mis­cha, who is cur­rently ranked No 26. The fam­ily moved to Ger­many in 1991.

“It’s quite amaz­ing what we’ve achieved,” Zverev said to his fa­ther dur­ing his vic­tory speech. “You might be the best coach in the his­tory of ten­nis.”

TASOS KATOPODIS / GETTY IM­AGES / AFP

Alexan­der Zverev of Ger­many sa­vors vic­tory af­ter de­feat­ing Kevin An­der­son of South Africa in Sun­day’s Citi Open fi­nal in Wash­ing­ton, DC.

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