Alexander Zverev, world #4 and second seed in China faces the young and eccentric Australian star Nick Kyrgios in the last four in Beijing. Before the tournament Zverev was struggling with a minor injury but he has played his way into form. He is looking for his seventh final this year and has already qualified for the World Tour Finals. Kyrgios, meanwhile, has struggled with his form in the second half of this year with early exits at both Wimbledon and the US Open. However, it seems he has found the motivation in China and he has played some excellent tennis. Both players have shown their quality so far this week, but who will reach the final?
Zverev and Kyrgios have met three times so far in their careers. Interestingly, all three matches were played this year on hard courts. Kyrgios leads 2-1 in the head to head. Their first match was contested in Indian Wells during the Sunshine Double swing. Nick Kyrgios played superbly during that tournament, and won comfortably in two sets 6-3, 6-4. Their next match came just a week later at the Miami Masters. This clash was in the quarterfinals, with the stakes high for both men. This showed as the two young guns put on one of the best displays of the tournament, and arguably the year. Ultimately, Nick Kyrgios prevailed, winning 6-4 6-7 6-3 in a thrilling match.
Their third meeting came at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. Zverev gained his revenge over Kyrgios, picking up his first win 6-4 6-3. The young German went on to win his second Masters 1000 trophy, defeating Federer in the final with an extremely impressive performance.
Path to the semifinals
Alexander Zverev started against Britain’s Kyle Edmund in China. The world #4 came to the tournament with a minor injury after his loss against Damir Dzumhur in Shenzhen. Fortunately Zverev showed that his injury was in the past by defeating the tough British player 6-3 7-6. Zverev struggled slightly in the second set but the German managed to take the match in two sets all the same.
In the second round in Beijing Zverev came up against the often controversial Italian Fabio Fognini. Zverev won again in two sets 6-4 6-2. Early on the match was extremely tight, but the German managed to stay calm and take the first set. After that Fognini wilted, and Zverev was able to wrap up the win comfortably. In the quarterfinals Zverev defeated Russia’s Andrey Rublev 6-2 6-3 after little more than an hour on the court. Rublev was probably a little tired after his long three set matches against Jack Sock and Tomas Berdych. However, that should take nothing away from Zverev’s great performance. The world #4 was dominant from the back of the court.
Nick Kyrgios started his tournament against Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia. The Australian player was at his best as he defeated Basilashvili easily 6-1 6-2. In the second round, he played against Alexander’s brother Mischa Zverev. The first set was not a good one for the Australian as his serve misfired badly. He lost it 6-3 but thereafter improved dramatically. The elder Zverev found himself unable to create any more opportunities and Kyrgios progressed into the quarterfinals with a 3-6 6-2 6-2 win.
There the world #19 faced Steve Darcis. Less than a month ago they played a tremendous match in the Davis Cup semifinal with the Australian player recovering from being 1-2 sets down to win in five. With that match fresh in the memory and the good form of Darcis in the last couple of weeks, the fans expected another entertaining match. But that didn’t happen. Kyrgios raced through the first set 6-0 and the Belgian then retired due to an injury in the neck down 3-0 in the second. A retirement through injury is never how a player wants to win, but it did allow Kyrgios to save some potentially crucial energy ahead of his semifinal with Zverev.
How do they match up?
Alexander Zverev’s style is perhaps typical of the modern tennis player. He has a huge serve which he is regularly able to win free points with. His second serve is also excellent and he can vary it successfully to prevent his opponent reading it. Zverev’s forehand and backhand are powerful weapons, with his backhand being one of the best on Tour. That being said, his forehand can sometimes break down under pressure. Although he is almost two meters tall, Zverev is a fine mover. He regularly demonstrates by staying alive in long rallies, and his forward movement is generally impressive.
Kyrgios’ style is aggressive and hard-hitting. The Australian player has a great first serve. When he can keep the first serve percentage high, it makes him almost unplayable, as Djokovic found to his cost in Acapulco and Indian Wells. His second serve is also very good, although Kyrgios often hits a huge second serve which surprises his opponents but can also sometimes result in costly double faults. He has a huge forehand which he is able to hit both hard and flat, and also with spin. His backhand has improved as his career has gone on, and it is a solid shot at this stage. That being said, unlike Zverev he is not able to dominate rallies with it. Kyrgios, being fairly unorthodox will often attempt drop shots and rushes to the net, making him a difficult player for opponents to get a rhythm against.
The key for the match though will probably be the serve. With both players such powerful servers, whichever man has the better day on serve will likely win. Breaks of serve will certainly be at a premium, and at least one tiebreak is to be expected.
It will probably be a tough match for both men, with a multitude of long rallies throughout. However, Alexander Zverev has been more solid throughout the season, with him aiming to reach his seventh final for the year. Kyrgios just hasn’t shown that consistency, which is why he is ranked 15 spots lower than the German. Zverev in three sets.
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