World number eight and rising star Alexander Zverev takes on South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in a rematch of the Washington Open final last week. Both are in some excellent form of late, and thriving on the North American hard courts. That’s little surprise as the courts are well-suited to their aggressive, power based games. An excellent match should await.
The pair have faced each other three times so far over the course of their careers. They first met back in 2015, when Zverev, as an 18-year-old, sprung an upset win over Anderson in three sets in Washington. Injury ruled the big South African out of most of 2016, but the rivalry was renewed in Rome this year. Zverev walked away with the victory again in the Italian capital, getting the best of Anderson in a tight 6-4 4-6 6-4 win. They played most recently in Washington for the second time, this time in the final. After both had played some excellent tennis to reach the title match, it was Zverev who had the better of it. He stepped up his game to a level that Anderson didn’t look able to reach and pulled out the victory in straight sets.
Path to the quarter-finals
Zverev, as the fourth seed, enjoyed a first round bye and opened his campaign against Richard Gasquet. The Frenchman looked unable to compete in the first set, losing it 6-3 But he rebounded to steal the second set and send the match into a decider. There he threatened the upset and had a match point with Zverev serving down 5-6. An epic 49 shot rally decided it, and Zverev hung tough and pulled it out. That set him up to dominate the tie break and move into the third round. There he faced off against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios. He came into the match in superb form, having crushed Victor Troicki and Paolo Lorenzi to set up the match. But Zverev was a major step up in quality and Kyrgios was unable to take it. Zverev controlled the match throughout, coming through 6-4 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals.
Anderson, unseeded, began his tournament against Israeli qualifier Dudi Sela. Sela couldn’t contend with Anderson’s power. After Anderson dominated the first set, Sela put up more of a fight in the second, reaching a tie break. But Anderson took it 7-1 to move into the second round. There he came up against Pablo Carreno Busta, the Spanish 11th seed. Anderson was again in control early on, taking the first set 6-3. Carreno Busta pushed him in the second set, and it was again decided by a tie break. Anderson was not as dominant as he had been against Sela, but won it all the same, 8-6, to reach the third round.
There his opponent was recent Wimbledon semi-finalist Sam Querrey, who had beaten Anderson in that run to the last four. He also came into the match in good form, having recently triumphed in Los Cabos and defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round in Montreal. But Anderson crushed him, taking the match 6-4 6-1. Querrey looked a little jaded after his exploits of late and was never in the contest.
How do they match up?
Both men are big hitters and come with some of the biggest serves on tour. Anderson, two inches taller than Zverev, is the better server of the two, although the advantage is marginal. Zverev probably has the better groundstrokes off both sides, his backhand is certainly superior to Anderson’s. Indeed, it’s one of the best on tour. Zverev is also the better mover. Amongst the tour’s big men, only Berdych is his superior. In order to win the match, Anderson will have to dominate with his serve and forehand and keep the rallies short. He will need to have a healthy advantage in the rallies under five shots as Zverev will likely win the majority of the longer rallies.
Zverev should win this match. He beat him last week, comfortably. It’s difficult to see what has changed dramatically enough to predict another outcome for the match. Anderson is a fine player who has maximised his game to have some terrific achievements. But against Zverev, he comes up against someone who is already one of the world’s very best at only 20. That is a level of quality that Anderson does not have, despite his brief stint in the world’s top 10. Zverev in straight sets.
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