A sign for ’22: Zverev dominates to claim ATP Finals trophy

Sports

Alexander Zverev of Germany returns with a backhand to Daniil Medvedev of Russia during their singles final tennis match of the ATP World Tour Finals, at the Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy, Sunday, Nov. 21, 2021. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

TURIN, Italy (AP) — If Alexander Zverev’s performance this weekend is any indication, a lot can be expected from the third-ranked German in 2022.

Zverev beat the top two players in consecutive matches to earn his second title at the ATP Finals.

After eliminating No. 1 Novak Djokovic over three sets in the semifinals, Zverev put on a dominant performance in Sunday’s final, beating No. 2 Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-4.

Medvedev, the U.S. Open champion, won this event last year and had beaten Zverev five consecutive times.

“There’s no better way to end the season than winning here,” Zverev said. “I’m also now very much looking forward to next year already.”

The title culminates quite a year for Zverev, who also won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics and who has now finished 2021 with more wins on tour — 59, one more than Medvedev — than anyone else.

The main thing missing in Zverev’s trophy collection is a Grand Slam title, having lost an epic final to Dominic Thiem in last year’s U.S. Open final, when Zverev served for the title in the deciding fifth set.

“He is a great player that is capable of beating anybody. He definitely can win a Grand Slam because it’s just obvious,” Medvedev said. “But he’s not the only one. That’s where it gets tough. … You need to win seven matches to be a Grand Slam champion. Is he capable? Yes. Is he going to do it? We never know.”

The final was a rematch of a round-robin encounter on Tuesday, when Medvedev beat Zverev in a third-set tiebreaker.

This one went Zverev’s way from the start, as the 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) player crushed a huge backhand to the corner then gained from a net-cord winner to break Medvedev’s serve in the third game of the match.

Helped by fast conditions inside the Pala Alpitour, Zverev was virtually untouchable on his serve, winning 20 of 25 points with his serve in the first set.

Zverev broke again in the opening game of the second set then grew so confident that he began executing audacious swinging-volley winners as he followed his serve to the net on occasion.

Zverev closed it out with an ace out wide on his first match point — on a second serve.

This marked the first edition of the season-ending event for the top eight players in Turin — after 12 years in London, where Zverev won his first finals title in 2018.

“Obviously London was an incredible event but I think … Italy has topped it,” Zverev said.

“What makes it so special here in Italy is the fans, because the fans are absolutely insane,” Zverev added. “It’s the loudest crowd, it’s the most energetic crowd.”

Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut won the doubles title by beating Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 6-4, 7-6 (0).

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