Alexander Zverev was at his ruthless best on Thursday, trouncing Hubert Hurkacz 6-2, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals. As a result of the straight-set victories, he moved to 2-1 in Red Group action. The German had to beat Hurkacz to qualify following his three-set defeat to Red Group winner Daniil Medvedev. He played an aggressive brand of tennis and maintained his consistency throughout the match. The German struck 22 winners and committed just eight unforced errors to secure the deserved victory after 62 minutes. A reward for his victory is a semifinal showdown with World No.1 Novak Djokovic on Saturday. The Serbian had earlier clinched the top spot in Green Group with victories over Casper Ruud and Andrey Rublev.
“Today was a tough match mentally because I needed to win, so I was 100 per cent focused,” Zverev said. “It was very up and down, and I am happy to be through and win in straight sets. You can always improve. The margins are always very small between the top players, but to win you have to do the details right. I hope I can do that on Saturday. I have played Novak in every single big hard-court tournament this year. We are making a habit of playing in the later rounds at big tournaments. It is going to be an entertaining one I think.”
Notably, it is the third time Zverev has progressed to the last four at the season finale and the 24-year-old had lifted The Brad Drewett Trophy in 2018 in London. The World No.3, who is making his fifth appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals, captured the Tokyo Olympics gold medal and clinched his second ATP Masters 1000 crown of the season in Cincinnati in August. Zverev then won in Vienna (October) and has now won 30 of his past 34 matches.
Zverev started on the front foot, winning 16 of the opening 18 points against Hurkacz to move 4-0 ahead. With little Hurkacz could do, the German dictated the play brilliantly, sealing the first set in just 26 minutes.
Hurkacz showed a bit more resilience at the start of the second set, making it difficult for the German to break him. However, the World No.9’s resistance ended in the ninth game of the set when he fired a forehand wide to hand Zverev the break. The German then saw out the set for the victory and now leads Hurkacz 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series.
Casper Ruud overcame a set deficit to beat Cameron Norrie at the Nitto ATP Finals to maintain his hopes of making the semi-finals. The 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory meant that the Norwegian will now try to record his first win in his fifth ATP Head2Head meeting over Andrey Rublev on Friday.
“I played against him a couple of times and never was able to beat him,” Ruud said. “But I will, of course, try my best to bring something new to the table on Friday and challenge him in a different way than I’ve done before, because previously it hasn’t been working as I’ve wanted. But it will be a fun challenge. He’s a nice guy, we know each other well and he always plays with such high intensity. So I hope to do the same.”
“I think I did better in the second and third [sets] because I didn’t [make] so many unforced errors, and I was also serving much better. The serve helped me a lot today. On this surface, when it’s so fast, it’s a very important shot. Probably the most important shot during the matches is to have a good serve, because you get a lot of free points, and that was key today.”