Alexander Zverev opened his arms laughing and waved freely to the Turin audience: The Olympic champion caused a big surprise at the start of the ATP Finals and disenchanted Carlos Alcaraz.
The 26-year-old from Hamburg defeated the second-placed Wimbledon winner from Spain 6:7 (3:7), 6:3, 6:4 and decisively opened the door to the semi-finals. Even a fall in the third set didn’t knock Zverev off the pace.
The winner of the 2018 and 2021 tournament, who beat Alcaraz with a brutal serve and a better balance between risk and safety, will face Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev in the group stage. The top two teams advance to the semi-finals.
“My serve helped me a lot,” Zverev said in the on-court interview: “I’m happy with the turnaround. It’s always good to beat the best players in the world – and he’s one of them.” In total, Zverev scored 16 aces and scored 79 percent of the time when the first serve came.
Zverev slips: Paris memories are awakened
“I simply like being among the eight best players in the world and being able to compete with them,” he said before the match at the Pala Alpitour, knowing that the tournament suits him – hard court, indoor without external wind influences, two joint wins.
He also proved this against Alcaraz, who had clearly shown the limits of the best German player twice this season. The current world number seven from Germany did not win a single set in the round of 16 of the Madrid Masters and the quarter-finals of the US Open.
In Turin, however, Zverev created his chances from the start with a strong serve and an error rate initially lower than Alcaraz’s – but then missed four break points when the score was 3:3. Then the Spaniard, who had been a little weak in recent months, suddenly appeared and showed his class. In the tiebreak he secured the first set.
Alcaraz makes a lot of mistakes – Zverev bites
At the beginning of the second round, Alcaraz lost control again, made simple mistakes (33 unforced errors in total) and Zverev quickly pulled away to make it 3-0. With three aces in one game he finally sealed the set victory. After a break to make it 3-2 in the decisive section, Zverev slipped unhappily and made a brief grimace. Alcaraz immediately approached and asked about the burger’s well-being.
He gave a thumbs up and then everything went fine. “I didn’t twist my ankle. I slipped and felt a stretch in my Achilles tendon. It was a dull pain, but I don’t think it broke anything. It’s nothing compared to Paris 2022.”
At least he didn’t show anything in the match, he remained calm and celebrated the victory.
Zverev now has a day off on Tuesday before things get serious again on Wednesday. Instead, the parallel group with Novak Djokovic is now needed again, the Serb will face South Tyrolean Jannik Sinner on Tuesday night (9pm on the live ticker), and Stefanos Tsitsipas and Boris Becker’s protégé Holger Rune, will compete in the afternoon (2:30 am).