In their second clash in as many weeks, defending champion Alexander Zverev takes on Stefanos Tsitsipas for a place in the semifinals in Toronto. Zverev comes into the match in fine form and has played some excellent tennis in North America over the past two years. But he will also be aware of the importance of mounting a genuine challenge at the US Open later this month. Tsitsipas, meanwhile, has been continuing his breakout season. But who will come out on top?
That aforementioned meeting last week in Washington was their first-ever. Unfortunately for Tsitsipas it does not bode well for him ahead of this clash. Despite having played some excellent tennis to reach his second ATP 500 semifinal of the season (Barcelona) he wasn’t able to get close to Zverev for the majority of the match. An early Zverev break set the tone, and although Tsitsipas’ resistance stiffened in the second set, he was swept away 6-2 6-4 by the German.
Path to the quarterfinals
Zverev, whose first-round bye provided him with valuable time to regroup after his title-run in Washington, began his Toronto campaign with a comfortable 6-4 6-4 win over Bradley Klahn. Although he did not play sparkling tennis, the result never looked to be in doubt and Zverev was surely pleased with his day’s work. He then dispatched Daniil Medvedev, who had broken the heart of Felix Auger-Aliassime in the previous round, but had no answers to Zverev in a 3-6 2-6 defeat.
Tsitsipas faced Damir Dzumhur in the first round and beat the Bosnian 6-3 7-6. Then he added to the troubles of French Open finalist Dominic Thiem, who has won just three matches since that memorable run, with a 6-3 7-6 victory. That set up a clash with Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic. The Serb has, however, looked flat all week, and despite offering creditable resistance in the second set, he deserved the 3-6 7-6 3-6 loss Tsitsipas handed him.
How do they match up?
The similarities between Zverev and Tsitsipas extend beyond their flowing locks and bandanas. Both men are powerful hitters from the back of the court, equipped with big serves. Tsitsipas is the flashier of the two, both sartorially and with his groundstrokes. His single-hander is sure to earn him many fans over the coming year but does not provide the reliability of Zverev’s two-hander. But it did serve him well against Djokovic with a down the line winner from that wing securing the crucial break.
The Greek does have the better forehand and he will need it to be firing against Zverev. Whilst Zverev does not lack for power on his forehand, it is not as consistent as his backhand and when under pressure it can break down. But he moves and defends better than Tsitsipas, which seems in large part to be a result of his greater experience on Tour, with the German two years his opponent’s senior. With both reasonably evenly matched offensively that could prove decisive.
Tsitsipas has played very well up to this point in Toronto, with his back-to-back top ten wins a fine achievement. But Thiem is in very poor form and is anyway far from his best on fast hard courts whilst Djokovic looked rather disengaged for the majority of their contest. Zverev one suspects will prove a different proposition. He also crushed Tsitsipas just a week ago. It’s hard to see what can have changed within that time to produce a different result. Zverev in two.