Germany’s Alexander Zverev stunned four-time Rome champion Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-3 to win his first Masters title on Sunday, confirming his status as a French Open dangerman.
The 20-year-old Zverev claimed his maiden Masters 1000 title after becoming the youngest player in a decade to reach a final at this level and moved to 10 in the world as a result of his impressive victory.
Despite a clinical straight sets win over Austrian Dominic Thiem on Saturday, world No 2 Djokovic produced a flawed performance on centre court that saw him swear as he struggled to find a way back into the match.
Overall, Djokovic had 27 unforced errors to 14 for Zverev, who also had 16 winners to the Serb’s 11.
Zverev now has four career titles, three of which have come this year, while Djokovic, who turned 30 yesterday, was denied what would have been a record 31st Masters title.
“Playing against Novak, one of the best players to ever play – it was an honour being on the court with you,” Zverev, the first player born in the 1990s to win a Masters title, said.
After playing twice on Saturday, when he was forced to complete his rain-interrupted quarterfinal against Juan Martin del Potro before facing Thiem, Djokovic struggled to find rhythm against Zverev.
He complained of conditions that were “completely different”, with “a lot of wind and just very fast and bouncing [balls]”.
Despite the defeat, Djokovic will start the French Open, which gets under way next Sunday, as one of the favourites.
He also confirmed that eighttime grand slam title winner Andre Agassi would coach him in Paris.
In the WTA event, Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina continued her brilliant season with a clinical 4-6 7-5 6-1 upset win over injuryhit Simona Halep.
Halep, who won the Madrid Open last week, needed treatment after going over on her right ankle in the second set as she hit a return from the baseline. – AFP