Zverev breaks his duck at the expense of Nadal
Alexander Zverev showed the devastating form which took him to the title at the ATP Finals a year ago, with the German hammering world No. 1 Rafael Nadal 6-2, 6-4 on Monday to start his 2019 year-end campaign.
The group victory puts the German into early command of his group at the eight-man season finale in London, with Nadal taking to the court after deciding to play following an abdominal muscle injury just over a week ago.
Zverev lost just four points on serve and broke twice to sweep the first set as a depleted Nadal struggled throughout to find form..
Zverev, beat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic back to back here in 2018 to lift the title, slowed his pace only slightly in the second set, going up an early break on his Spanish opponent on the way to victory.
Zverev had lost all five of his previous matches against Nadal, their last the Rome final in 2018.
The upset against a veteran struggling with injury recovery took less than 90 minutes and puts Zverev into a second group match on Wednesday against Stefano Tsitsipas, a winner earlier over Daniil Medvedev
Nadal has a chequered history at the season wrapup, qualifying 15 times but playing in only eight editions due to late-season injury.
The clay king owns just one career title on indoor hardcourt, in Madrid 14 years ago before the tournament switched to its current clay.
Nadal’s fitness has been poor since he won the US Open in September, failing to play in Shanghai with a hand injury and handing in a walkover this month in Paris with his abdominal muscle tear.
Zverev has turned in a disappointing season, winning one minor 250-level title in Geneva almost six months ago.
The German showed his determination to reverse course as he won six consecutive games to claim the opening set and take a 1-0 lead in the second on his way to the victory sweep.
Zverev dominated with 26 winners to just 13 for the underdone Nadal, who has said he will play on this week after feeling no pain in his abdominal muscle.
“I didn’t have enough practice time,” Nadal said. “I knew today was going to be difficult.
“Zverev is playing well right now. Otherwise, I felt fine, I’m very positive about my fitness.
“I have no problems with my abdominal muscle.”
Written by Bill Scott for Grandslamtennis.online. To read more visit grandslamtennis.online