Zverev Sails past Hurkacz, Sets Clash with Djokovic in Turin

Zverev Sails past Hurkacz, Sets Clash with Djokovic in Turin Photo: TT
Alexander Zverev returns the ball to Hubert Hurkacz at the Pala Alpitour in Turin. Nov. 18, 2021. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Luca Bruno.

In his fifth consecutive appearance at the ATP Finals, Alexander Zverev overcame Hubert Hurkacz, advancing into the semi-finals to face Novak Djokovic on Saturday.

World number three Alexander Zverev moved past seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz with a 6-2, 6-4 victory after 62 minutes at the Pala Alpitour Stadium.

The encounter was crucial for the German, who needed to win in order to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals last four, having lost his second match to world number two Daniil Medvedev on Tuesday.

In his on-court interview, he stressed: “Today was a tough match mentally because I needed to win, so I was 100 percent focused. It was very up and down, and I am happy to be through and win in straight sets.

You can always improve. The margins are always very small between the top players but to win you have to do the details right. I hope I can do that on Saturday.”

The 2018 champion dominated the opener, starting with an early break on his rival serve in the first game, followed by a double break to build a 4-0 gap which Hurkacz attempted, but failed to narrow, as the Hamburg native would take the first set 6-2 in only 27 minutes.

Displaying a solid, consistent performance, he hit 12 winners, recording only three unforced errors.

The 24-year old from Wroclaw regrouped, producing a better start to the second set, in which parity ruled between the players until Zverev broke to lead the Polish 5-4. Serving for the match, he closed out 6-4.

All in all, the 18-time ATP titlist fired 22 winners (11 aces), eight unforced errors, converting three of the seven breakpoints opportunities he faced.

Furthermore, he showcased an outstanding serving, winning 86 percent of his first-service points, 45 percent on his second.

Following his victory over the Pole, Zverev set up a meeting with Green Group winner Novak Djokovic on Saturday, when the 24-year-old will play his third semi-final at the event.

Speaking about his next match against the world number one, Zverev commented: “I have played Novak in every single big hard-court tournament this year. We are making a habit of playing in the later rounds at big tournaments. It is going to be an entertaining one I think.”

In their Head to Head Series, the Serbian leads 7-3, while in the Finals, the five-time champion holds a 2-1 advantage over the Tokyo Olympics gold medalist.

For his part, the top Polish men’s player in history to reach a career-high No. 9 in the ATP rankings leaves Turin with his head up high.

Hurkacz made 2021 his breakout season, winning three ATP titles, including a maiden ATP Masters 1000 trophy at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

In addition, he advanced to his first Grand Slam semi-final in Wimbledon, leaving behind U.S. champion Medvedev and Swiss Roger Federer.

The successful run throughout the year resulted in a new career-high, breaking into the Top 10 as he moved into the last four at the Masters 1000 in Paris, falling to eventual champion Djokovic early in November.

Altogether, it led the Moselle Open winner to book his ticket to the Nitto ATP Finals, the prestigious event that features the world’s best eight singles players and doubles teams.

Zverev set a 2-1 score in Red Group, opening his campaign at the tournament Sunday. He was up a set and game 7-6(7), 1-0 when his opponent Matteo Berrettini had to withdraw due to an abdominal injury.

Later in the day, the second seed Medvedev (already qualified), will play first alternate Jannik Sinner, who replaced Berrettini in Group Red.

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and a journalist passionate about sports, particularly motorsport, tennis, and soccer

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