Dominic Thiem returned to the Madrid final for a second straight year, and this time in search of his first Masters title, he won’t have to face Rafael Nadal. Instead, it will be the German wunderkind Alexander Zverev.
Zverev worked his way past Denis Shapovalov in a what could be a future rivalary. But so far, it’s Zverev with two wins over the Canadian in Masters semifinals, and on Saturday it was 6-4, 6-1.
“It was great. It was a great match,” Zverev said. “Obviously it’s not easy to play Denis. Great player. Great talent. Hopefully he’ll still improve and there are a lot more matches like this in the future.
“I’ve been in this moment before. We’ve played each other in this moment before,” Zverev said. “I’m just happy to be in the final and play for another Masters title.”
Shapovalov had remarkably never won an ATP-level match on clay, and just one in Challengers.
“It’s been an amazing week. Obviously it’s tough to feel positive after a loss,” Shapovalov said. “Getting my first win on the ATP Tour on clay here, making the semifinals of such a big tournament, I could never imagine to do so. I’m very happy. It’s been a huge, huge confidence booster for me.”
Zverev is into his fourth Masters final, he’s already won two of them.
Thiem also had an easy day, besting first-time Masters semifinalist Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-2. It was the Austrian’s first win in seven tries against Anderson.
“I was keeping my level up from yesterday, so that was a great thing,” Thiem said looking back to his win over Nadal. “The way I started was also well. Even though I played really different, I was returning very far back today.
“Yeah, almost everything worked out. To beat him 4 and 2, it’s a very good result.”
Thiem is in his 15th career final, seeking a 10th title, first at the Masters level his runner up in Spain last year.
“To be honest, I thought also myself that I was pretty far away before this week started. Now I’m in the final again, which is amazing for me. Would be definitely nice if I win the title than if I lose tomorrow.”
Thiem leads Zverev 4-1 winning all three on clay. They haven’t played since Zverev entered his 20s.
“We played five times against each other when he was already Top 10, and I was more in the developing stage still. Obviously he’s leading the head-to-head,” Zverev said.
Added Thiem, “A Masters 1000 title would mean a lot to me because it’s obviously really tough to win one.”
If Thiem wins, he will be the fifth first-time Masters champion in the last seven events. Zverev will try to win a third Masters which will make him among active players the most decorated Masters champion outside the Big 4.
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