Alexander Zverev defeats Karen Khachanov to win Olympic Gold

Alexander Zverev, Karen Khachanov, Pablo Carreno Busta Tokyo 2020

Alexander Zverev produced an outstanding performance to beat Karen Khachanov 6-3 6-1 to win the Gold Medal at the Ariake Tennis Center. The German played the perfect match and produced arguably the best performance of his career and looked unbreakable on serve as he dominated the Russian, never allowing him to get into the match.

Alexander Zverev def. Karen Khachanov 6-3 6-1

Both men began the match with strong holds of serve. However, it did not take long for the German to impose himself in the Russian’s service games.¬†Zverev was consistently able to return the ball deep in the court and broke in Khachanov’s second service game and this set the tone for what was to come for the rest of the set. On his own serve, the German was dominant, mixing up his serve location well, allowing himself not to be too predictable and Khachanov was unable to return Zverev’s serve consistently or effectively enough to get him back into the set.

What was particularly impressive was the aggressive intent shown by Zverev. Some have criticized the German that he allows himself too often to be too passive during matches and not aggressive enough against fellow Top 10 players. However, in the opening set, the German took the initiative and looked to consistently dictate the points, winning points effectively from the back of the court and at the net. There was nothing that Khachanov could do to counteract the German’s firepower. Zverev took the first set 6-3, breaking Khachanov’s serve for a second time to win the set.

After a routine hold for the German in his opening service game of the second set, the Russian needed to find a better rhythm on his serve. Unfortunately, Khachanov missed a routine forehand into the net at 15-15, which summed up the match. Zverev pounced, immediately breaking serve. The German continued to play what can easily be considered to be the best performance of his career and looked unstoppable as the set went on. Zverev’s forehand, that can sometimes leak errors, looked rock solid. His in combination with the firepower on the backhand side proved lethal.

The Russian’s difficulty to gain any foothold in the match was only magnified further in the second set. Zverev consistently returned the ball deep to Khachanov’s fee,t and the German’s serve was unbreakable. The Russian began to make more unforced errors and when Zverev was able to get the double break. Khachanov was understandably dejected and the match looked to be all but over. However, the Russian did well to come through a tough service game to avoid the bagel, and at 0-30 when Zverev was serving for the match, there seemed to be a glimmer of hope for the Russian that Zverev would get tight and that he could get one of the breaks of serve back. However, Zverev found his first serve again and held serve to win the Gold Medal.

What’s next for Zverev

This win could prove to be the spark of confidence required for the German to win his first Grand Slam. Indeed, comparisons can be made between Zverev and Andy Murray. Murray produced a similarly dominant performance to win the Gold Medal at London 2012, defeating Roger Federer in straight sets in the final. In the aftermath of his Gold Medal win, Murray went on to win his first grand slam  title at the US Open and won Wimbledon the following year.

I believe that Zverev can replicate Murray’s success in New York. With all the pressure being on Novak Djokovic to win all four Majors in the same year, it is possible that Zverev could come through the draw under the radar. It’s definitely possible for the German to win his first Grand Slam title at the US Open this year. As for Karen Khachanov, let’s hope this can lead to a good run of form for the Russian, who has struggled to reach the heights of his 2018 win at the Paris Masters.

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