Second-seeded Alexander Zverev shook off a slow start to beat top-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) on Saturday and win the ATP hardcourt tournament in Acapulco, Mexico.
Germany’s Zverev, ranked seventh in the world, had lost his last five matches against the world No 5 from Greece.
Early on it seemed Zverev might be heading for another defeat as he dropped his first service game on the way to trailing 4-1 in the opening set.
But he stepped it up to save three break points in the sixth game, holding serve to launch a run of five straight games that saw him pocket the set. A tight second set saw Zverev gain the first break for a 5-4 lead and a chance to serve for the match.
Tsitsipas saved one match point on the way to regaining the break when Zverev double-faulted on break point – one of his eight double faults in the contest.
From there it was a fierce battle to the tiebreaker, Tsitsipas saving six break points to hold for a 6-5 lead and Zverev saving a set point on the way to making it 6-6.
Zverev converted his third match point to seal the victory and go one better than his runner-up finish to Australian Nick Kyrgios in Acapulco in 2019.
“This victory means a lot to me,” said Zverev as he donned the sombrero traditionally given to the winner.
He claimed his 14th ATP title and his first of 2021 and will be one of the men to beat when the Miami Masters starts next week in the absence of stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem.
Tsitsipas, who was coming off semi-final appearances at the Australian Open and Rotterdam, was denied a sixth ATP trophy.
It was the first Acapulco final featuring the tournament’s top two seeds since 2015, when second-seeded David Ferrer beat top-seeded Kei Nishikori in straight sets.
Aslan Karatsev seals maiden ATP title
Russian Aslan Karatsev continued his remarkable season by winning his first ATP Tour title on Saturday, beating Lloyd Harris in the Dubai final.
The 27-year-old, who became the first man to reach the semi-finals on their Grand Slam debut in the Open era at the Australian Open last month, cruised past South African Harris 6-3, 6-2.
“You never know when (success) is coming,” said Karatsev, who is the first wildcard to win the Dubai title since Thomas Muster in 1997.
“I did a good job with my team, with my coach and it has happened now.”
Karatsev, who climbed from 114th to 42nd in the world rankings following the Australian Open, broke qualifier Harris’ serve midway through the opening set and twice more in the second.
It was his first ATP singles final, having won an event for the first time on tour in last week’s doubles tournament in Doha, alongside compatriot Andrey Rublev.
He dumped out the in-form Rublev in Friday’s semi-finals and backed that up against Harris.
Karatsev saved the only two break points he faced as he raced to victory in under an hour and 20 minutes.
“I am super happy. It was a tight match. (I was) really nervous,” added Karatsev. “I want to congratulate my opponent for the final (run). He did a great week... I am happy that I won.”
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