Zverev: "I'm Happy He Won His First Masters"
At a whopping 6’10”, the American struck 18 aces and was unbroken throughout the match, finally earning victory in a tightly contested 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4 decision over Zverev. The win was his first over the German in four tries – although the two go back even farther than their ATP World Tour meetings. The two have been frequent practice partners at Saddlebrook Resort for years and have shared a friendship for years.
“The first practice that we ever played I think I was 15, and it was the last day of the offseason and he went to Australia, and he lost to me,” said the 20-year-old, who is 12 years younger than Isner, himself now the oldest first-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titlist.
“He was quite disappointed, I remember. But he's a great guy,” added Zverev. “He was always kind of pushing the younger guys. I'm happy that, you know -- I'm never happy to lose, but if I lose, I'm happy that he won [his] first Masters."
Ultimately, it wasn’t to be for Zverev this year at the Miami Open. And, at Crandon Park, it will never be.
Contesting the last final to be held at the historic Crandon Park before the tournament moves inland to Miami Gardens’ Hard Rock Stadium, Zverev fell just short of his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.
“I'll never win here,” said Zverev after the match, with a smile. Although the move to a new venue will be a big change for players, who have played at Crandon Park for their entire careers, the German welcomes the change and the excitement that will come with it.
“[Crandon Park] is a great site; it's a historic site. It's one of the oldest ones that we still have. But I think changing next year to the new one is going to be amazing,” he said. “I think the stadium will be amazing. For the crowd it's going to be amazing. For us players it's going to be much, much better. It's a good move, but still we'll miss this site.”
‘Amazing’ was Zverev’s word of choice, which was completely fitting considering the amazing twists and turns of the final he just contested, saving 10 of 12 break points faced and battling it out against one of the ATP World Tour’s biggest servers.
“I played bad from the baseline,” said Zverev in a critical assessment of his own performance. “But, you know, it's not easy against John, because you always feel the pressure that if you get broken you're not going to win the set.
“He played great. He played very well from the baseline and he returned very well. Obviously his serve, but we don't need to talk about the serve.”
Zverev, who turns 21 on April 20, was bidding to become the youngest player to win three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles since Novak Djokovic in 2008. Now, just 60 points behind Marin Cilic for third in the ATP Rankings, he is in strong position to surpass his career-high of No. 3 as the year continues.