Alexander Zverev of Germany has won the third Master’s series title of his career after a one sided 6-4,6-4 win over the Austrian Dominic Thiem in the final of the Mutua Madrid Open. It was the second title of the year for the 21 year old German who became only the fifth player in 2018 to have won multiple titles this year. Last Sunday he won the Mercedes Cup in Munich to win his first title of the year.
In a highly anticipated match up between two of the biggest stars of the future, Zverev never faced a break point in the final. It was his third Master’s series title, having previously won on clay in Rome last year and then on the hard courts at Montreal.
The 24 year old Austrian had entered the final by beating the five time champion Rafael Nadal who was on a 50 set winning streak and also on a 21 match winning streak on clay. Thiem drops to 4-2 in their career head to head series, having previously beaten him thrice on clay. He lost serve early once in each set and it was always an uphill battle from there on. It is the second consecutive year that the winner in Madrid had not dropped a set to claim the title. Rafael Nadal won it last year beating Thiem in the final.
Zverev joins Roger Federer, Roberto Bautista Agut, Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin Del Potro to have claimed two titles this year. He also becomes the fifth active player with a trio of titles at the elite level, joining Rafael Nadal (31), Novak Djokovic (30), Roger Federer (27) and Andy Murray (14).
Thiem paid a heavy price for a lop sided opening game when he dropped serve at 15, double faulting on break point. Zverev was always in command and also broke early in the second set. He would claim a tour-leading 26th match win of 2018 after one hour and nineteen minutes. He hit 15 winners and benefitted from 21 errors by Thiem.
Zverev who will be defending his crown in Rome this week earns 1000 ranking points and consolidated his position at no. 3 in the rankings. In the absence of Roger Federer who regained the top ranking, a good showing in the Italian Capital would help seal second seeding at Roland Garros. A deep run by Grigor Dimitrov, Juan Martin Del Potro or Marin Cilic and an early exit for Zverev could see a lot of change in rankings from three to six. Thiem will get 600 points but would drop to number eight in the rankings behind the South African Kevin Anderson whom he beat in the last four.
Zverev is now 26-7 in 2018, just ahead of Thiem who is 25-7. Thiem had won the clay court event in Buenos Aires in February this year. Significantly Zverev has not dropped a set in his last nine matches over the last fortnight and is on a 18 set winning streak. Thiem, who was the last man to beat Nadal on clay in Rome last year, finished runner up for the second year in a row and has still to win a Master’s 1000 title.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]