Sascha Zverev Conquers Citi Open
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
The men’s final at Citi Open in Washington was a perfect contrast of players on tour. In the near corner stood your 31-year-old challenger, Kevin Anderson, at 6’8″, a man who’d spent the last seven years inside the top 100, and who peaked at world #10. I chose to call him the challenger because he was installed as a 3-1 underdog by the global bookmakers. Though he has had success in his ten years as a pro, some of Anderson’s greatest moments in the game came as a standout for the University of Illinois. The pro success came in the form of three titles over his career at ATP 250 tournaments, which would made a victory in Washington the undisputed high point of his career thus far.
In the far corner stood the kid, a 20-year-old phenom and son of tennis royalty who skipped college to go straight to work in the pros. Standing two inches shorter than Anderson, Zverev’s meteoric rise in the four years since he turned pro saw him break out of the top 100 in 2015, reach top 20 status in 2016 and conquer the top 10 this year.
And today, the kid is the champion of Washington in a 6-4, 6-4 showing of perfect tennis by Zverev.
Zverev got through Kei Nishikori, Daniil Medvedev and Tennys Sandgren in straight sets. He also beat Jordan Thompson in a third set tiebreaker in his opening match at Citi Open.
After the win, he was asked about his role in the ATP Next Gen series. He replied, “I’ve already won four titles this year, so I’m not an ‘in-the-future’ guy.”
Kevin Anderson couldn’t rely on his big serve today and it cost him. Still, it was a fabulous run for Anderson as he beat Jack Sock in straights to advance to the final. Previously, he survived in three sets against Yuki Bhampbri, took out Dominic Thiem in a third set tiebreak and breezed past Malek Jaziri in his opening round.
Anderson hadn’t even been a finalist in an event in almost two years before today’s final, having last hoisted hardware as the winner of the 2015 Winston-Salem Open. By contrast, Zverev had lifted three trophies in 2017 alone, including the Masters 1000 event in Rome.
Anderson and Zverev had dueled twice before with both matches going three sets. In 2015, Zverev was the victor in Washington and earlier this year, Zverev took out Anderson en route to the biggest prize of his career in the Italian Masters.