Zverev Sprints Past Nishikori, Into Washington Final
During the past two years, in what has quickly become the breakout stretch of his young career, Alexander Zverev has had success on every surface. He has won indoor hard-court titles – St. Petersburg Open and Open Sud de France in Montpellier – and clay-court crowns – ATP World Tour Masters 1000 in Rome and the BMW Open by FWU in Munich. He has twice reached the grass-court final at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle.
But Zverev had never won a title or even reached the final of an outdoor hard-court tournament. That changed on Saturday.
The 20-year-old German needed only 64 minutes to prevail past World No. 9 Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4 in the Citi Open semi-finals in Washington, D.C. Zverev, who improved to 40-13 on the year and 5-5 against the Top 10, reached his fifth ATP World Tour final of the season.
“I played a great match. I played well from the baseline. I returned pretty well... I was holding serve quite comfortably, so I'm happy with how I played,” Zverev said.
The fifth seed will go for his fourth title of the year and fifth of his career on Sunday when he faces 15th seed Kevin Anderson. The South African prevailed past Jack Sock of the U.S. 6-3, 6-4.
“He's playing unbelievable tennis. He won against Dominic in a great match. He beat Jack today,” Zverev said. “It's going to be a tough final. If I can play as well as I did today, hopefully I can get out with a win.”
Zverev has won both of their FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, but both matches went three sets. Zverev beat Anderson en route to his Internazionali BNL d'Italia title in Rome earlier this year and at the Citi Open in 2015.
The #NextGenATP star and Nishikori had never played before Saturday's second semi-final, but the German dominated from the start and never let Nishikori into the match.
Zverev broke the right-hander in the second game and cruised on his serve. For the match, Zverev won 94 per cent of his first-serve points, dropping only two of them (31/33). The 6'6” right-hander also punished groundstrokes, keeping Nishikori on his heels, and looked to attack often, winning eight of his nine net points.
Nishikori, who played a two-hours and 39-minute quarter-final on Friday, never had an answer for Zverev's power. During the second set, the German broke in the third game and served out the match. He never faced a break point.
Zverev had a light evening planned for Saturday night. Asked what he was going to do in the next few hours to prepare for Sunday, Zverev said, “I'm going to have dinner, do some work with my physio, probably play some FIFA with Marcelo Melo, who's in the final of the doubles tomorrow, and that's about it. Then go to sleep.”