Rafael Nadal is Challenged by Zverev but Prevails in Rome Final
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Rafael Nadal was challenged in Rome by his final three opponents, but in the end he left the tournament as champion with a 6-1 1-6 6-3 victory over Alexander Zverev in the final, a final that featured rain after Nadal dropped the second set. In the third set Rafa took control, much as he did against Fabio Fognini in the quarters and Novak Djokovic in the semis. Both Fognini and Djokovic tested Nadal for portions of their match, but Nadal is #1 on clay for a reason. Nadal beat Damir Dzumhur and Denis Shapovalov in straight sets early in the tournament. Djokovic played well to reach the semis and has a decent shot at making a strong run in Paris.
The Spaniard heads into Roland Garros as a heavy favorite and he’s captured three titles on clay this season, including two of the three Masters titles on clay that were on offer. Germany’s Zverev should be the #2 favorite at the French Open, he won two titles on clay this Spring, along with reaching the Rome final, and is 32-6 on clay over the past two seasons. Zverev beat Matteo Berrettini and Kyle Edmund in straights, then edged David Goffin in three sets, and powered past Marin Cilic in the semifinals.
In the doubles final Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah beat Carreno Busta/Sousa.
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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.