Alexander Zverev got his ATP Finals campaign off to a flying start on Monday as he fought back from a set down to beat Carlos Alcaraz 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-4.
Germany’s Zverev, who won the tournament twice at the end of the year, produced a powerful display to see off world number two Alcaraz who has not been on top since returning from injury at the end of last month.
Wimbledon champion Alcaraz struggled with lower back and left leg problems, which kept him out of action since the Shanghai Masters in early October.
Then he was dumped out early at the Paris Masters by Russian qualifier Roman Safiullin and flagged towards the end of a brutal contest with giant Zverev, the number seven seed in Turin.
Zverev is tough opposition on hard courts like the one at the Pala Alpitour and he made full use of his height and power to see off Alcaraz and dominate the Red Group.
The 26-year-old hit 16 aces and was broken just once during an impressive streak in which he hit more winners and committed far fewer unforced errors than Alcaraz of all types.
“Against Carlos I’m not someone who’s going to win a lot of baseline rallies so I knew I had to serve well, to reach a lot of people, I knew I had to serve a lot do. .it paid off in the end,” Zverev said.
Alcaraz claimed the first set after breaking back to love in game six to level at 3-3 and took the lead in the next game after saving three break points.
– Zverev leads Alcaraz –
The rod was then raised to salute when Zverev saved three set points on his own serve in game 12, but Alcaraz’s class managed to claim a set that lasted well over an hour.
However, Zverev bounced back and reeled off three games in a row to create a straight second-set win as Alcaraz was beaten back by his opponent’s service game.
And Zverev pushed on to claim the honours, securing victory in trademark style with two devastating sessions that Alcaraz – who had the advantage – could not handle.
“I am one of the players who have played the most matches on tour … I feel good physically,” insisted Alcaraz.
“I don’t think I need more matches (to be in top shape).”
Before Zverev won, Novak Djokovic was awarded the trophy for finishing the season as world number one, a position he achieved after winning his exciting Green Group opener with Holger Rune on Sunday night, a match that lasted more than three hours.
Djokovic is favorite to claim his seventh Finals, which would put him out of his own record as the winner, one ahead of great and old rival Roger Federer.
“Winning the Grand Slams and being number one in the world are probably the highlights of the sport,” Djokovic said on court.
“It’s been a very long year for all the players and it’s a blessing to be able to stand here.”
Later on Monday, 2020 champion Daniil Medvedev will face fellow Russian Andrey Rublev in the day’s other Red Group match.
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