Cincinnati Masters Preview: Alexander Zverev vs Lloyd Harris

Lloyd Harris Citi Open

Alexander Zverev, who is riding high after claiming Olympic Gold barely two weeks ago, returns to the ATP Tour at the Cincinnati Masters. The 24-year-old German begins his journey on Tuesday under the lights against upbeat South African Lloyd Harris.

Cincinnati Masters Round 2

While Zverev returns after a well-deserved euphoria of winning the Tokyo Olympics, Harris has been busy. He has scored some memorable victories coming into this week, but none better than his monumental win over Rafael Nadal in his Round of 16 contest in Washington, D.C.

On Monday, in his tournament opener, the man from the rainbow nation breezed past Yoshihito Nishioka 6-3 6-4. and twin quarterfinal appearances at Washington DC and Toronto would give him a sense of confidence as he prepares to lock horns against Zverev.

Alexander Zverev vs Lloyd Harris

In their only battle so far on the ATP Tour, Zverev bested Harris 6-4 3-6 6-0 in the quarterfinal in Cologne last year. Once again, he starts as a firm favorite.

Following his disappointment at Wimbledon, where he lost in five sets to Felix Auger-Aliassime in the fourth round, Zverev has been phenomenal on hard courts. Not only did he beat World No.1 Novak Djokovic in the Olympic semifinals, but he also dropped just one solitary set en route to his Gold Medal triumph.

Zverev relishes playing on hard courts. He is easily one of the top contenders to win the title in Cincinnati this week. However, Harris poses a tricky and formidable test, especially in his tournament opener. Against Harris, the 24-year-old German cannot afford to be rusty. He needs to hit the top gear as soon as he can, as the South African won’t need a second invitation to make any early inroads into the contest.

As far as Zverev is concerned, the Cincinnati Masters offers him a perfect opportunity to fine-tune his game before the final Slam of the year. On the other hand, 2021 so far has been a coming of an age year for Harris. His victories over some of the big names in tennis including Nadal, Dominic Thiem, Kei Nishikori and Denis Shapovalov attest to the fact that he has shown remarkable improvements in his game, especially on hard courts.

Zverev’s Struggles in Cincinnati

Against a player of Zverev’s caliber, clarity of thought, clean striking of the ball, and effective serving must be Harris’ go-to strategy if he fancies troubling his formidable opponent. While Zverev has an incredible first serve, his second serve speeds drop significantly when he is under pressure. Harris must find a way to capitalize on weaker second serves to give himself a chance of breaking serve.

In his opener, Zverev is not only up against his opponent, but also his abysmal track record at Cincinnati. The winner of three Masters 1000 titles is yet to win a match in Cincinnati. He will be desperate to change that this time around.

In his first match on tour since Wimbledon, can Zverev claim his first win at Cincinnati? Or will Harris, punching above his weight, find a way to upset the German?

An intriguing contest awaits us as Zverev and Harris lock horns to book a spot in the Round of 16 at Cincinnati.

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