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Zverev Ends Five-Match Losing Streak vs. Tsitsipas to Win Acapulco 500 Title

Alexander Zverev of Germany in action against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece during the men’s singles final match of the Mexican Open tennis tournament, in Acapulco, Guerrero state, Mexico, 20 March 2021. EPA-EFE/David Guzman

By Ricky Dimon

Just about everything was in Stefanos Tsitsipas’ favor heading into Sunday night’s final of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel against Alexander Zverev.

Tsitsipas had won five matches in a row against Zverev to take a 5-1 lead in the head-to-head series. He had been the best player all week long in Acapulco, too, destroying most opponents in addition to beating Felix Auger-Aliassime in a high-quality three-setter. When the world No. 5 led Zverev 4-1 and had three break points for a double-break lead in the first set of the final, it was all going according to plan.

And then everything changed. Zverev fought off all three break points to hold for 2-4, ended the opening set by taking five games in succession, and survived a wild second set to triumph 6-4, 7-6(3) after two hours and 17 minutes of play.

“I’ve always said that this is definitely a tournament that I wanted to win in my career,” said Zverev, who finished runner-up to Nick Kyrgios in 2019. “I have a very strong relationship with Mexico and with this tournament. I came here with a goal and I achieved it, and I’m very happy with that.

“It’s amazing. I’m extremely happy to finally win the singles trophy. This means a lot to me…. The year is different. We played (each other) a lot in 2019 and early 2020 when I was not really myself. It was a better quality match from me (than in previous matches against Tsitsipas).”

German tennis player Alexander Zverev raises the champion’s trophy after defeating Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final game of ATP 500 Mexican Open tennis tournament in Acapulco, Mexico, 20 March 2021. Zverev won 6-4 and 7-6(3). EPA-EFE/David Guzman

That’s not to say it was brilliant from start to finish. In fact, the ending was almost as bad as the beginning for Zverev. The seventh-ranked German played a disastrous service game while trying to close out the contest at 5-4, double-faulting three times and squandering one match en route to being broken. Zverev then missed three break chances at 5-5, but he did well to save a break point at 5-6 and force a tiebreaker.

Having steadied himself, the No. 2 seed led the ‘breaker the whole way to secure his 14th career ATP title.

“In the beginning I started off extremely bad,” Zverev admitted. “I had to fight my way into the match, and I did well to win the first set. In the second set, when I have a chance I need to close it out against these top players because normally they won’t give you a second chance. I thought I played extremely well in the tiebreak; I’m happy with how it went.”

“I take this week very positively,” Tsitsipas concluded. “I think it is great being able to play at such an intensity and level. I was very close once again to clinch and get that title, but it wasn’t meant to be.”

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in action against Alexander Zverev of Germany during the men’s singles final match of the Mexican Open tennis tournament, in Acapulco, Guerrero state, Mexico, 20 March 2021. EPA-EFE/David Guzman

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.