Defending Mutua Madrid Open champion Alexander Zverev is showing no intentions of letting slip his trophy.
The 22-year-old German battled hard on Thursday to defeat 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 10 minutes, advancing to the last eight. Zverev has now made the quarter-finals in Madrid on all three of his appearances (2017-19).
The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion arrived at the Caja Magica without having won multiple matches at the same event since Acapulco, where he reached the final. But Zverev is growing in confidence, defeating former World No. 3 David Ferrer in straight sets in the Spaniard’s final match and now clawing his way past an ever-improving Hurkacz.
“It’s a place where I always have had good memories, I always played well, and it is nice to come back here and to show that I’m still one of the best players in the world and be able to play my best and always find a way,” Zverev said.
The Pole led by a break early in the decider, and won one more point than Zverev in the match. But the third seed did especially well with his backhand, and played his best tennis in the biggest moments to advance. It appeared the two 22-year-olds were heading for a final-set tie-break, but from 4-5, 30/30, Hurkacz launched an approach shot long and then double faulted to lose his chance at matching his career-best victory (defeated World No. 4 Thiem in Miami).
“I needed that win for sure because the last two matches, I lost where I had match points, and I lost 7-5 in the third and 7-6 in the third. So a match like this I really need. And I was down a break in the second, down a break in the third, and I always try to find a way,” Zverev said.
Zverev’s quarter-final opponent, Stefanos Tsitsipas, extended his winning streak to six matches by advancing to the quarter-finals of an ATP Masters 1000 tournament for the second time on Thursday evening. The eighth-seeded Greek knocked out local resident Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-4 in 88 minutes.
“I played pretty good, didn’t give him lots of chances,” Tsitsipas said. “I really wanted this match badly and I think my serve and my forehand today worked very well and gave me this consistency and flexibility to do a lot of things on the court.”
Last week’s Millennium Estoril Open champion — adding to his title run at the Open 13 Provence in February — won 81 per cent of his first-service points against Verdasco to draw level with Russia’s Daniil Medvedev on 25 match wins for most victories on the ATP Tour in 2019. Last year, Tsitsipas reached his first Masters 1000 final at the Rogers Cup final (l. to Nadal).
It was at that tournament that Tsitsipas saved two match points against Zverev to reach the quarter-finals. In the next round, the Greek became the youngest player to beat four Top 10 opponents at a single tournament since the ATP Tour was established in 1990 by ousting Kevin Anderson.
On Thursday in Madrid, Tsitsipas experienced little resistance from Verdasco and led by a set and 4-1 — which included three service breaks — before a momentary lapse in concentration in the sixth game of the second set. This was the pair’s first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.
“It wasn’t easy, I can tell you. I walked on the court and it felt like everybody was supporting Fernando. I understand that he comes from Madrid. People here love him, so I had to deal with this. It wasn’t easy,” Tsitsipas said. “I had a few people from Greece who came to cheer for me, so that was pretty good as well.”