Friday, September 11, 2020

Zverev and Thiem Advance to US Open Men's Final; Zvonareva and Siegemund Win Women's Doubles Championship; 13-Year-Old Fruhvirtova Claims First ITF Junior Titles

©Colette Lewis 2020--

Twenty-three-year-old Alexander Zverev of Germany has long been considered the most promising of the NextGen players, but his results in the slams have not approached those in ATP events. After reaching the semifinals of the Australian Open this year, his first slam semifinal, and being a prime beneficiary of the Novak Djokovic default this week at the US Open, he looked poised for his first slam final...until his match with Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain started.

Although Carreno Busta played well, the fifth-seeded Zverev looked passive and content to trade groundstrokes, and before long the Spaniard had a 6-3, 6-2 lead. Zverev took note of his situation and decided that something had to change.

"I looked at the scoreboard after two sets," said Zverev, who went on to win the next three sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, for his first comeback from two sets down. "I thought to myself, Look, I'm playing a Grand Slam semifinal, I'm down 6-3, 6-2 in a match where on paper I'm supposed to be the favorite. I needed to play better, start something new. I thought, Okay, I'm going to go set by set, we'll see how far I can get. It turned out well in the end."

Carreno Busta, who was in the US Open semifinals in 2017, saw Zverev raise his level, yet expressed disappointment in his own response.

"Well, is true that he plays better in the third set," said the 29-year-old, seeded No. 20. "He start to serve better, to don't make the mistakes. In this moment with two sets up is when you need to win the match, when you need to go for it, to try to do it, to continue playing aggressive. Maybe I didn't do it. Was the problem for me."

No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria will face Zverev in Sunday's final, in a rematch of the Australian Open semifinal this year, which Thiem won 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(4). The 27-year-old Thiem, who will be playing in his fourth slam final, defeated No. 3 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia 6-2, 7-6(7), 7-6(5). Medvedev served for both the second and third sets, but Thiem broke back both times and came up with key winners in the tiebreakers, while Medvedev wasn't quite as consistent as usual. 

Thiem has a 7-2 advantage head-to-head with Zverev.

The women's final between Naomi Osaka and Victoria Azarenka is set for 4 p.m. EDT on Saturday, with the men's final scheduled for 4 p.m. EDT Sunday. 

The women's doubles champions were crowned Friday afternoon, with unseeded Vera Zvonareva of Russia and Laura Siegemund of Germany defeating No. 3 seeds Nicole Melichar and China's Yifan Xu 6-4, 6-4. Zvonareva and Siegemund, who were playing together for the first time, got early breaks in both sets and were able to keep Melichar and Xu at bay. It's the second women's US Open doubles title for Zvonareva, who won her first way back in 2006, with Nathalie Dechy of France. She also won the Australian women's doubles title with Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia in 2012 and has two slam mixed doubles titles. It's the first women's doubles title at a slam for Siegemund, but she did win the US Open mixed title in 2016, with Mate Pavic, who won the men's doubles title yesterday.

For a detailed account of today's final, see this article from the WTA website.

At one of the ITF Junior Circuit Grade 2s that concluded today, 13-year-old Brenda Fruhvirtova of the Czech Republic won her first titles, taking both the singles and doubles championships in Cairo Egypt. Fruhvirtova became eligible to compete on the ITF Junior Circuit back in April, when she turned 13, but with the pandemic, she wasn't able to actually play in one until now. Given a wild card (oddly she was not given one to the Grade 2 this week in her home country), Fruhvirtova sailed into the final, dropping only seven games in her first four wins. She had a tougher time in the championship match, but defeated No. 3 seed Hania Abouelsaad of Egypt 6-0, 4-6, 6-2. In the doubles final, Fruhvirtova and Kira Pavlova of Russia defeated top seeds Mariam Ibrahim and Jermine Sherif 7-6(5), 6-2.

Fruhvirtova, who won the Les Petits As title in February, has not lost a singles match in 2020, going 16-0 in this abbreviated tennis year, and she also has had some head-turning results in exhibition matches against WTA Top 100 players.