Putting his disappointments of Indian Wells Masters behind, where Alexander Zverev lost to an inspired Taylor Fritz in the quarterfinal, the 24-year-old German cruised through his opener at Vienna on Tuesday.
The No.2 seed dismissed Filip Krajinovic’s challenge 6-2 7-5 in just one hour and 21 minutes on Center Court. He will now lock horns against Australian Alex De Minaur on Thursday. The German was a break of serve down in the early part of the second set but showed enough resolve to get the job done in straight sets.
Since his early exit at Wimbledon, the young German has been enjoying a glorious run on hard courts in the second half of the season, winning Olympic Gold and Cincinnati Masters 1000. Since the Olympics, Zverev has succumbed to just two defeats, once against Novak Djokovic at the US Open and then against Fritz in the Californian desert earlier this month.
With Daniil Medvedev not in the mix and Stefanos Tsitsipas slightly off-color in the lead-up to Vienna, Zverev is the favorite to lift his first Vienna title.
Alexander Zverev vs Alex De Minuar
In his opening match, De Minuar got the better of Kevin Anderson 6-3 7-6(3) in an hour and a half. The Australian has struggled to win matches during the second half of this season, so this was a welcome development. De Minaur had a decent outing on grass, winning at Eastbourne, and was a semifinalist at Queen’s Club Championships, but his journey on the hard courts thereafter has been abysmal.
The German dominates the Aussie 4-1 in their head-head record so far on the ATP Tour. Having said that, De Minaur got the better of Zverev in their most recent encounter, toppling the German 4-6 7-6(3) 6-2 at the ATP Cup in 2020. Interestingly, all their clashes have come on outdoor hard courts in the past. As far as this match in Vienna is concerned, one can expect fast and lively indoor conditions to suit the big-serving German.
Considering a massive gulf in their forms on hard courts during the second half of this season, Zverev should be an overwhelming favorite against the Australian.
With the Paris Masters 1000 and Nitto ATP Finals to follow, this tournament presents the German a great opportunity not only to get back to his winning ways but also to fine-tune his game and gather some steam ahead of taking on the world’s best in Turin.
Against a big server like Zverev, the Australian cannot afford any drop in intensity during his service games. While De Minuar is out of form, the German still needs to be wary of his opponent’s electrifying movement on the court.
The 22-year-old Australian must be willing to take risks. He needs to be calculative in his approach by racing towards the net whenever an opportunity presents to unsettle Zverev.
On the other hand, Zverev, who was a bit rusty against Krajinovic, will aim to get back to his clinical best against De Minuar to advance a step closer to claiming his fifth title of the 2021 season.
Can De Minaur play out of his skin to upset Zverev? Or will the German, displaying a commanding level of tennis, record another dominant win on hard courts this season?
Well, we will find out as Alexander Zverev and Alex De Minaur battle it out for a spot in the quarterfinal in the Austrian capital!
Main Photo from Getty.