Zverev Captures First Clay Win Of 2022

Taking the court Wednesday evening as the highest-ranked player remaining at the Rolex-Monte Carlo Maters, World No. 3 Alexander Zverev lived up to the billing with a 6-1, 7-5 win over Federico Delbonis. Seeking his sixth ATP Masters 1000 title, and his fourth on the European clay, the German was tested by his World No. 34 opponent but used a late surge to prevent any real drama on the show court.

Zverev has a big opportunity to move within striking distance of the top spot in the ATP Rankings following the early exit of Novak Djokovic and the injury absence of Daniil Medvedev. The German would inch within 125 points of Medvedev and 235 points of World No. 1 Djokovic with a sixth ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo.

“This is the only Masters only clay I haven’t wont yet, but I’m very motivated to do so,” said Zverev, a 2018 semi-finalist at the event. “I’m very motivated to play great tennis and I hope I can show that on court this week.”

After losing the first four points of the match on the return, Zverev snapped into gear to win six straight games as he breezed through the opening set, dropping just three points on serve. Delbonis again started strongly in set two, breaking at love before a mid-set trade of breaks left him leading 3-2.

As errors began to creep into the Zverev ground game, Delbonis had a point for 5-2 but could not convert, leaving the door open for his opponent. And the World No. 3 took full advantage by winning 11 straight points to move within a game of victory. The Argentine saved a match point at 4-5 and another at 5-6, but netted a backhand at the third time of asking.

“I think just coming back, never letting him get too far ahead [was important],” Zverev assessed. “I broke him back twice, so that is helpful. If you’re down 4-1, 5-2, something like that, it’s not easy to come back.”

As in the opening set, Zverev found the range with his powerful strokes, keeping Delbonis pinned back in the rallies and using his 6-foot-6 frame to great effect in defense. Aggressive from the start, the German finished with 18 winners and 36 unforced errors while converting six of 11 break points.

Overall, he was happy with his performance in first clay-court match of the 2022 ATP Tour season: “I think it’s not bad for a change of surface. Also after Miami I was ill, so you have to take that into consideration a but. But I’m happy with the win.

“Tomorrow I know that I have to play much better, and hopefully I can give myself the best chances.”

Zverev will next face Pablo Carreno Busta for a spot in the quarter-finals, after the Spaniard advanced via a third-set retirement against Alexander Bublik. The German leads that ATP Head2Head series 2-0, coming back from two sets down in their most recent meeting in the 2020 US Open semi-finals.

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