NEWS

Zverev Digs Deep To Reach Hamburg European Open Semi-Finals

Top seed Dominic Thiem falls to Rothenbaum tournament defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili.

In front of 8,000 spectators on a packed Centre Court on Friday afternoon, Alexander Zverev battled past Filip Krajinovic of Serbia. The No. 2 seed from Germany rallied from 2-6, 2-5 down with Krajinovic serving for the match in the second set but managed to come back. In the end, Zverev hit 11 more winners than his opponent to secure a 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 victory in two hours and 20 minutes.

Supported by the spectators

“The crowd helped me. They gave me energy. It’s all for them, it’s all for the city,” Zverev was delighted to be through to the semi-finals at his home tournament.

“I feel great. But I was trying to find ways the whole match. I was trying to get my rhythm back and my game going. That wasn’t easy. I didn’t play good at all in the first set and a half. Fortunately, I kind of started playing better and better the longer the match went, and I broke him at 5-3 which was very important and the match kind of turned from there,” the 22-year-old said in his postmatch press conference.

Zverev confirms split with coach Lendl

Zverev was surprised that Ivan Lendl’s split announcement came during a tournament week, but he also said it became obvious that they were both going in different directions.

“I have nothing but respect for him,” Zverev pointed out. “We worked well for ten months and it’s been very nice having him by my side, winning London. I wish him nothing but the best. I think he will find a player very soon. And it’s also about personalities and maybe we didn’t fit yet. Maybe it will change but for now it’s over.”

Is Zverev looking for a new coach? “I have the greatest coach. I have the best coach there is. I am very happy with him – for now,” the World No. 5 laughed.

Local hero against defending champion

Zverev will next be challenged at the Rothenbaum tournament by No. 4 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia. The Hamburg defending champion eased past  Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in the opening match of the day, winning 6-2, 6-3 in 67 minutes.

“As it is always tough to play quarterfinals, it was important to have strong start into the match,” said Basilashvili. “I changed my service motion, as I had some problems with my right arm during the season. I executed very well today, and I enjoy playing here.”

Tournament’s No. 1 falls

Earlier in the day, top seed Dominic Thiem lost to Andrey Rublev of Russia 7- 6(3), 7-6(5). The 21-year-Russia won four points more than the Austrian to prevail after one hour and 47 minutes.

“The reason, why I lost the match was the first set,” Thiem said. “I did some small, at the end big mistakes. It is not really allowed for a player like me to mess up a break twice in one set and that’s what I did.”

Next stop: Kitzbühel

The 25-year-old Austrian will compete at the Generali Open next week, bidding for his first title on home soil. “I will travel to Kitzbühel tomorrow, trying to get used to the conditions there.”

In the Tyrol region, Thiem’s younger brother Moritz will team-up with Dominic’s coach Nicolas Massu in doubles. It will be the 19-year-old’s first ATP match. The two-time Olympic champion from Chile will return to competition for the first time since 2013 when Massu lost in the opening round of the ATP Challenger event in Manta to Alejandro Gonzalez of Colombia.

Rublev back from injury

Rublev will stay in Hamburg for the final weekend. “It was tough. In my opinion, he is the best player on clay after Rafa,” said Rublev after his first win against a Top 5 player. “So, of course to have a match like this is something special and for sure I hope that it will give me the confidence and I will keep working and keep improving… I was just saying to myself that it’s going to be a match [about] who is going to try to be more aggressive.”

Rublev withdrew from Roland Garros and the qualifying in Stuttgart and missed six weeks of the 2019 ATP Tour season due a wrist injury but seems to be in good shape again.

“The first tournament after the injury was Halle and since then, I started to have like unreal pain. I started to get afraid that it is again a little fracture or  something like that, and right before last week in Umag, I did an MRI because the pain was like ridiculous. I could not serve, and they told me that this might be a fracture and that I have to miss like six weeks again,” Rublev explained.

“I said how is that possible, as I just recovered from a fracture and we did one more test and they eventually said that it’s not as dangerous as they thought. So, I can play but that I need to take care and control. So, now there is no pain, and everything is fine.”

Carreno Busta fights past Fognini

Rublev, currently ranked World No. 78, will appear in his first semi-final of the season, facing Pablo Carreno Busta. The 28-year-old Spaniard celebrated his seventh match win against No. 3 seed Fabio Fognini in as many meetings with the Italian. Carreno Busta won a topsy-turvy encounter 3-6, 6-2, 7-6(4).

“It was a tough match. I had a bad start but started to improve from the middle of the second set and finally in the tie-break I could do it,” Carreno Busta said after the two hour and 38 minutes fight.

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