Alexander Zverev spread his arms laughing and greeted the Turin public freely: the Olympic champion caused a big surprise at the start of the ATP Finals and disenchanted Carlos Alcaraz.
The 26-year-old Hamburger defeated the second-seeded Spanish Wimbledon winner 6:7 (3:7), 6:3, 6:4 to definitively open the door to the semi-finals. Even a fall in the third set did not take away Zverev’s rhythm.
The winner of the 2018 and 2021 tournament, who beat Alcaraz with a brutal serve and a better balance of risk and confidence, will face Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev in the group stage. The top two advance to the semi-finals.
“My serve helped me a lot,” Zverev said in the on-court interview: “I’m happy with the breakthrough. It’s always nice to beat the best players in the world – and he is one of them.” In total, Zverev hit 16 aces and scored a good 79% of the time when the first serve came.
Zverev slips: memories of Paris are awakened
“I simply like being among the eight best players in the world and being able to compete with them,” he said before leaving at the Pala Alpitour, knowing that the tournament suits him: hard court, indoor with no outside wind, two victories imposed.
He also demonstrated it against Alcaraz, who had clearly shown the limits of the top German player twice this season. The current world number seven, German, did not win a set either in the round of 16 of the Madrid Masters or in the quarterfinals of the US Open.
In Turin, however, Zverev created his chances from the start with a strong serve and an initially lower error rate than Alcaraz, but then missed four break points at 3:3. Then the Spaniard, who had been a bit weak in recent months, suddenly arrived and showed his class. In the tie-break he secured the first set.
Alcaraz makes many mistakes: Zverev bites
At the beginning of the second round, Alcaraz again lost his sovereignty, made simple errors (33 unforced errors in total) and Zverev quickly moved to 3-0. With three aces in one game he finally sealed the victory of the set. After a break that made it 3-2 at the decisive moment, Zverev slipped unhappily and grimaced briefly. Alcaraz immediately approached and asked how the burger was doing.
He gave the thumbs up and then gave the go-ahead. “I didn’t twist my ankle. I slipped and felt a tear in my Achilles tendon. It was an annoying pain, but I don’t think anything was broken. It’s nothing compared to Paris 2022.”
At least he didn’t show anything during the match, kept his nerve and celebrated the success.
Zverev will now have a day off on Tuesday before things get serious again on Wednesday. Now, however, the parallel group with Novak Djokovic is back, the Serbian will meet the South Tyrolean Jannik Sinner on Tuesday evening (9 pm in the live ticker), in the afternoon Stefanos Tsitsipas and Boris Becker’s protégé Holger Rune will compete (2: 30:00).