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Alexander Zverev backs up upset of Novak Djokovic with comprehensive gold-medal match win over Karen Khachanov
Barbora Krejčíková, Katerina Siniakova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev also won Olympic gold medals on Sunday.
Published Aug 01, 2021
Tennis Channel Live: No gold for Novak Djokovic
With four ATP Masters 1000 titles, a season-ending championship—and, now, an Olympic gold medal—Alexander Zverev is one of the best best-of-three-set tennis players in the world.
The 24-year-old added to his resplendent resume on Sunday with a commanding, 6-3, 6-1 win over Russia’s Karen Khachanov, capping a week in which he dropped just one set in singles and defeated the runaway favorite in Tokyo, Novak Djokovic.
"This is the biggest tournament you can win, in any sport," Zverev said. "I can't believe it, I'm an Olympic gold medalist."
It will be fascinating to watch Zverev the rest of this summer, not only in significant best-of-three tournaments in Canada and Cincinnati, but in best-of-five-set play, at the US Open. He finished runner-up at Flushing Meadows last year, but if Djokovic stumbles—or if Zverev is, once again, the reason for that stumble—it’s not hard to envision the uber-talented German talking full advantage once again.
For years, the knock on Zverev was that he couldn't convert in the money rounds at the majors. Ranked in the Top 5 for much of 2017 and 2018, Zverev failed to get beyond the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam tournament. Even after winning the year-end ATP Finals in 2018, he hit a ceiling in the round of eight. But Zverev has now reached three semifinals (or better) at the last six Slams, and now owns something two 20-time major champions lack: Olympic singles gold.
The end of 2018 was also significant for Khachanov. After winning the Paris Masters with a bludgeoning array of groundstrokes, expectations were sky-high; in an off-season interview, Mark Knowles told TENNIS.com that, “From the first time I saw [Khachanov], he’s been my No. 1 guy. He’s like a Marat Safin 2.0—but with a strong mental game. He’s a huge player, yet he can move so well. He just needs to close points out at the net more.”
On a number of occasions today, Khachanov seemingly had a point within his grasp, only for Zverev to snare it with impressive court coverage (even more so given his 6'6" frame) or quick-transition offense. By the end of this match, Khachanov's frustration seemed to boil over, with Zverev was simply playing too well.
"I didn't walk on court for one second for me," said Zverev. "I never gave up, I never lost that spirit."
Earlier, French Open champion Barbora Krejčíková and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic defeated Switzerland's Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic, 7-5, 6-1, in the women's doubles gold-medal match. Bencic was striving to win gold in both singles and doubles.
And in an all-Russian contest for the mixed doubles title, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev defeated Aslan Karatsev and Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-7 (5), 13-11.