Zverev Makes Masters 1000 Breakthrough in Rome
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Key breaks and a spine of steel allowed 20 year old Alexander Zverev to defeat Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-3 in the 2017 Rome Masters final. Djokovic’s serve was relatively poor, while Zverev moved well, keeping Djokovic on his back foot. Zverev is the first player of his generation to win a Masters 1000 title, and he joins the ATP top 10 for the first time, setting him up for a potential deep run in Paris after winning two clay court titles this Spring (Munich and Rome). It was a great tournament overall for young guns, and is another indication that the changing of the guard from the current big 4 may be coming sooner rather than later.
Zverev’s stiffest tests en route to the biggest title of his career came against big servers Kevin Anderson and John Isner, who both notched sets against him only to succumb in the third. Zverev also beat Viktor Troicki and Milos Raonic, who fell apart in the second set, with another key win coming against Fabio Fognini, who a fortnight prior had dismantled world #1 Andy Murray and sent him packing for Paris in poor form. The American Isner had one of his best ever showings on clay and scored wins over Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic to reach the semis.
Djokovic, reaching his first Masters title of the season, will be disappointed with the loss, but he’s adding the legendary Andre Agassi to his new coaching team and had a relatively dominant week in the Italian capital defeating Aljaz Bedene, Roberto Bautista Agut, Juan Martin Del Potro, and Dominic Thiem, who stunned Rafael Nadal 6-4 6-3 to reach the semifinals and has had a solid clay court season as well.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut defeated Ivan Dodig/Marcel Granollers in three sets to take home the doubles title.