World No.5 Alexander Zverev won the biggest title of his career when he crushed Russian Karen Khachanov 6-3 6-1 on Sunday to win the men’s singles gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. The 24-year-old, who has yet to win a Grand Slam title, was in stunning form in the one-hour and 19-minute express contest to become the first German man to win a single Olympic gold.
The 6-foot-6 Zverev controlled the match with his big serve and a confident two-handed backhand, never really giving the 25th-ranked Khachanov a chance. Zverev’s previous best performance was reaching the final of last year’s U.S. Open, where he wasted a two-set lead in a five-set loss to Dominic Thiem.
Long criticised for his perceived mental weakness, including losing to Dominic Thiem in last year’s U.S. Open final when he surrendered a two-set lead, Zverev proved the doubters wrong this time.
He remained in complete control, thundering backhand winners past his opponent who could only look on as he settled for silver.
“There are only few people in this world who are happier than me at the moment,” Zverev said. “I can’t compare it because this is so much bigger than anything else in sports,” he told reporters.
“A gold medal for me at the Olympics, the value is incredible. The Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world. There is nothing compared to this.
“I have this golden thing around my neck and it is not one of the 50 gold chains that I normally wear.”
Zverev became only the second German to win Olympic singles gold, matching Steffi Graff’s achievement at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
Germany also won Olympic gold in the doubles with Boris Becker and Michael Stich at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
Khachanov was competing in Tokyo as a representative of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) because the country was stripped of its flag and anthem for doping offences.