Tennis Channel Live: Andy Roddick wants more from Alexander Zverev

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“Come on, Andrey!” “Here we go, Andrey!” “You can do it, Andrey!”

These were some of the phrases that filled the air during the men’s final at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Sunday. The Andrey in question was Andrey Rublev, and he needed all the help he could get.

Over the previous four days, the Russian had played three three-set matches, all of them in the heat of the Ohio afternoon. By the time he faced off against Alexander Zverev in the final, he didn’t appear to have much left, and he quickly fell behind 4-0. The Cincinnati fans, hoping to see a match rather than a rout, did what they could, but their cheers were in vain. After an hour, Rublev succumbed 6-2, 6-3.

Until today, this had been a banner tournament for the ATP’s younger set. In the absence of the Big 3, Zverev, Rublev, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Top 4 seeds, lived up to their rankings and reached the semifinals. Once there, they staged two excellent, crowd-pleasing matches on Saturday: In the afternoon, Rublev hung tough enough to record his first win over Medvedev; in the evening, Zverev survived a bout with an upset stomach and edged Tsitsipas in a third-set tiebreaker.

This should be a reassuring week for anyone worried about the transition from the ATP’s old guard to the new. The young guys may not be ready to win 20 Grand Slam titles—one would do for now—but they’re ready to put a Masters 1000 on their backs and make it a memorable event.

“I think tennis is in a good spot, I would say, because the other guys are still there,” Zverev said after winning his 17th title. “Novak is still at top of his game, but the young guys all look quite strong. It’s going to be interesting to see who will do what in the next few years.”

On Saturday, Rublev beat Medvedev for the first time in five tries, but he’ll have to wait for another day to do the same against Zverev.

On Saturday, Rublev beat Medvedev for the first time in five tries, but he’ll have to wait for another day to do the same against Zverev.

The Cincy final, however, was anti-climactic. Zverev played well and did what he needed to do; he made 72 percent of his first serves and put his ground strokes inside the lines. But Rublev offered little resistance. He struggled to get his backhand over the net, to react to Zverev’s serves, to defend from the baseline. Even worse, other than one ball smash in the second set, he didn’t even get mad. Afterward, Rublev said he wasn’t tired; he just couldn’t recover after going down an early break in each set.

“I was feeling well. It was more about I think the beginning,” said Rublev, who is now 0-5 against Zverev. “Both sets, when you start straight with a break down, especially against Sascha who is serving that well and that hard, it’s already super tough. Because he feel more release, he knows that he have advantage, he have one break ahead. It’s much, much easier to play when you start with a break. It’s already give you big advantage. That was the key.”

On Saturday, Rublev beat Medvedev for the first time in five tries, but he’ll have to wait for another day to do the same against Zverev.

“I felt well from the beginning,” Zverev said. “Broke him the first game, and I think then the match went my way, I have to say, quite a lot and quite fast.”

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Alexander Zverev was a few points from the US Open title last year, and he looks to be in even better form this season.

Alexander Zverev was a few points from the US Open title last year, and he looks to be in even better form this season.

With this title, Zverev will take an 11-match win streak into the US Open, and he’ll carry the confidence and momentum he gained from the Olympics to New York. More important, he’ll also know that he can beat Novak Djokovic in a major event, having just done it in Tokyo. You know you’re serving and playing well when a Top 10 opponent like Rublev loses all hope after you break him in the first game of the match.

“I do think that he’s still the favorite,” Zverev said of Djokovic at the Open. “I do think he's going to be playing incredible tennis there. He’s going to be fresh, and I think there is also other guys that are in very good form. I think Rublev is in very good form, Medvedev, Tsitsipas, all those guys are playing great tennis.”

“It’s definitely going to be an interesting US Open. But I’m also looking forward to it, because, yeah, I know where I stand, I know how I’m playing, and I hope I can continue the work and hopefully play even better in New York.”

An “even better” Zverev is going to be tough for anyone, even the man going for the calendar-year Grand Slam, to beat.