Zverev beats Wawrinka in St. Petersburg, Pouille also wins first ATP title

Stan Wawrinka’s winning streak in finals finally came to an end on Sunday. In turn, the third time was the charm for Alexander Zverev.

Playing in an ATP final for the third time in his career, Zverev triumphed for the first time by beating the top-seeded Wawrinka 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 at the St. Petersburg Open. The world No. 27 battled back from a 3-0 deficit in the final set to get the job done after two hours and 23 minutes.

Following a rough opening set, Wawrinka seemed to seize control by breaking twice in the second while surrendering only four points in four service games. The U.S. Open champion also broke for a quick 2-0 lead in the decider, but that’s where his momentum came to a sudden end. Zverev broke back for 2-3 and earned another crucial break at 5-5. An easy hold in the next game sealed the deal for the 19-year-old German, who clinched victory with a forehand pass at 40-15.
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“This victory is something special,” Zverev noted. “I played all the finals well. I lost to Dominic Thiem on clay and I could have won against Florian Mayer on the grass…. Now I’m very happy with the win, especially over such a great player like Stan.”

“We showed high-quality tennis,” Wawrinka assessed. “I was struggling in the third set; I had chances but I didn’t manage to convert them. He deserved the win.”

Winning is exactly what Lucas Pouille has been doing throughout the 2016 campaign–especially since late spring. Fresh off a run to the U.S. Open quarters, which featured a five-set upset of Rafael Nadal, Pouille secured his first career ATP title by defeating Dominic Thiem 7-6(5), 6-2 at the Moselle Open on Sunday afternoon.

The more experienced Thiem was competing in his 10th final and seeking his eighth title, and for a while he enjoyed the upper hand. Ranked No. 10 in the world, the 23-year-old Austrian seized a 5-2 lead in the opening-set tiebreaker only to drop five points in succession. It was all Pouille the rest of the way. The 18th-ranked Frenchman carried his fine form into the second, during which he broke for 1-0 and 5-2 before serving out the match at love.
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“I’m very happy with my week,” Pouille assured. “Winning a title is a big step, it’s an objective I wanted to achieve this year. It was a well-played final. We both played at a high level.”

“I think the first set was a pretty high level from both of us,” Thiem added. “I should have won the tiebreak but had an easy volley mistake. All in all, he was the better player and had more chances in my service games. He deserved to win today. I think he put pressure on me all the time and was serving really well.

“He’s had an amazing year, reaching the quarterfinals in the last two Grand Slams and semis in the Masters 1000 in Rome. I think we will see him in the Top 10 soon.”

14 Comments on Zverev beats Wawrinka in St. Petersburg, Pouille also wins first ATP title

  1. I agree with Ricky, Zev Minor has star quality. He stands head and shoulders above the YoungGen players (pun intended) plus he has an appealing personality – except when he is frustrated with himself and can become a tad too lippy with the umpires or his box.

  2. The more I watch/ed these youngsters, the more I appreciate young Rafa. Rafa was 17 when he first met and beat Fed the then no.1 player; went on to win his first two Masters at age 18 and then won his first slam just 2 days after turning 19. He ended the year as no.2 at age 19. Of course before Rafa, there were the teenage prodigies in Borg, Wilander and Becker. Rafa is the last teenager to win a slam and thats eleven years ago!

    Both Fed and Rafa had star quality even when they were just teenagers or upstarts only, and carry on having that star quality and charisma throughout their career.

    While Alex Zverev may be one of the most promising among the youngsters and having quite good looks and maybe some star quality, he plays a game that’s too similar to just how the other youngsters play, ie he’s not unique, unlike Fed or Rafa. In fact I see most youngsters now just serving big and hitting hard and going for winners all the time and it gets a bit boring.

    At least with the big four plus Stan and Delpo or even Cilic, we see some differences in styles – attacking from baseline with net rushing; incredible topspin shots and incredible defence; unbelivable flexibily and balance from both wings and incredible change of directions; junk balling and variation of pace; incredible hard hitting from both wings; crazy easy power lethal flat FH and incredible serving and one two punch tennis. In other words there’s still some varieties of play despite the surfaces getting more similar. One distinctive feature that I find lacking in the latest young crop – good ROS. The big four, all of them, have good to very good ROS and that’s why they are still winning against those big serving guys. One thing more – the big four come with incredible footwork, even at late twenties or at mid thirties, they are still so quick around the courts.

    I dont think I’m seeing all the above in these younger gen guys. All they do is to hit as hard as possible. Maybe the 20 something guys, guys who are hitting their prime or peak – guys like Kei, Kygrios, Dolgo, and Pouille – may offer some varieties, and except for Dolgo, the other three are heading the right direction in the rankings.

    I’m not too excited about the young guns, I think Pouille who’s 22 already, offers some interesting tennis.

    • The Big Four is an anomaly to say the least and a tough standard to compare.

      They’ve created a monster that perhaps have set expectations too high for many.

      That said, I think it is natural for the game to have ebbs and flows in terms of talent.

      Sure there was an aging Agassi and perhaps Safin, but he early 2000’s in men’s tennis had a similar ebb with the likes of Roddick and Hewitt at the top of the game and with the exception of Federer continued for quite some time.

      • I agree about the top four setting the bar extremely high. We don’t see the likes of Fed and Rafa very often. That is why they are great. They each brought unique qualities and gifts to thus sport. Rafa came out and played with no fear when he faced Fed as a teenager. He was not intimidated and always had the belief that he could beat him. Tennis badly needed a Rafa to take on Fed and show that someone could beat him. A rivalry was created that ignited interest and excitement in tennis.

        I don’t think we will see teenage phenoms like Rafa and Borg again. Now we see young players maturing later. I think the next generation of players wil be different from the top four. We have been blessed with a Golden Age of tennis and it’s going to be a tough act to follow.

  3. Of all of the new ones, imo it’s Lucas Pouille with the most grounded attitude and specific goals going forward. I read his comments (forget where) and he says he tries to copy Federer and Nadal — not their tennis per se, but their work ethic, their approach to tennis and the commitment. Lucas Pouille understands he can’t copy them but can apply a similar life approach. Smart, sensible, kid. Hopes to be top 16 in time for a good AO seeding. Solid goal. He also credit’s his coach for giving him such good advice.

    Looking like he gets it. I might have to start liking him more!

  4. What I like so much about Rafa other than his passion and competitive never give up attitude, is his tactical mind. Where this is concerned, I have to praise Toni Nadal for it.

    Nadal as a 17 yo already knew how to read the game, formulate game plans and construct points to play tactical tennis. To me I value tactics over technical aspects of the game; techniques can be trained to perfection but a tactical brain is hard to come by.

    Toni Nadal trained Rafa to play under harsh conditions to help him learn how to withstand pressure; at the same time he helped Rafa to develop his tactical mind. Rafa beat Fed the very first time they met by employing the right tactics, for in no way he’s better than Fed where technique was concerned.

    Rafa had a calm and clear mind out there and that helped him to read his opponent’s game and to formulate game plans accordingly. Not everyone has the court craft that Rafa has since a youngster; of course when one gets more experienced and after playing many many matches, one would learn from experience and becomes more tactically sound and be better at court craft. In Rafa’s case, he didnt have that many match experiences as a 17 or 18 yo and yet he could produce that kind of court craft and tactical play, to me that’s something more captivating than serving great and hitting hard to win points.

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