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Italian Open: Tsitsipas overcomes Zverev to reach maiden final

Tsitsipas’ 31st victory of 2022 extends his lead over second-placed Carlos Alcaraz (28) on the season’s match win leaderboard. Tsitsipas’ run to the Rome semi-finals has propelled him to No. 4 in the Live ATP Rankings

SNS | New Delhi |

World No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas reached his first Italian Open final on Saturday, defeating World No. 3 Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Tsitsipas’ 31st victory of 2022 extends his lead over second-placed Carlos Alcaraz (28) on the season’s match win leaderboard. Tsitsipas’ run to the Rome semi-finals has propelled him to No. 4 in the Live ATP Rankings, and his outstanding form on clay has placed him among the favourites for the French Open at Roland Garros in a week.

In an engrossing two-hour, 29-minute win, the Greek was particularly strong on serve throughout against Zverev and stayed consistent from the baseline to halt his opponent’s early momentum. Tsitsipas was overjoyed to have reached a first-ever championship match in Rome, after losing in the semi-finals to Rafael Nadal in 2019.

Notably, Tsitsipas and Zverev are the only players this season to have reached the semi-finals of all three ATP Masters 1000 clay-court tournaments.

“It’s one of those tournaments that I think has the most history in the sport,” said Tsitsipas.

“As you can see looking around the sides, one of the most beautiful stadiums. There’s a lot of history playing on these courts and you feel very proud that you made your way here and are able to participate in such a historically rich event,” he added.

A strong start saw no breakpoints in the first six games, with both players displaying the impressive serving that has powered their strong clay form this year. Zverev made the first move, converting the only break point of the set for 4-3, and the German found enough first serves to hold off a Tsitsipas comeback as he won an entertaining first set.

Tsitsipas, like in Madrid last week, was able to recover from a set loss in the first to generate a momentum swing in the second. However, Tsitsipas was helped by a lapse in Zverev’s level, with the second seed double-faulting to hand Tsitsipas an early break for 2-0.

Although Zverev used his first serve effectively to keep Tsitsipas from breaking again, the Greek remained comfortable behind his own delivery to force a decider.

Despite competing well throughout, Zverev was never able to regain the consistency in his groundstrokes that he had in the first set. Tsitsipas’ ball striking was solid rather than spectacular, but it was enough to break the German twice more as the Greek easily won the deciding set.

Tsitsipas’ ATP Head to Head series lead over Zverev now stands at 8-4. The Greek will compete for a third Masters 1000 title in Sunday’s final against either World No. 1 Novak Djokovic or fifth seed Casper Ruud.

(Inputs from IANS)