World No. 6 Alexander Zverev and the man right behind him, seventh-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas, will meet for the fourth time in the Beijing semifinals on Saturday. Hopefully they give tennis fans a glimpse into a bright future much like Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka did in their titanic clash a day earlier. The only difference is both women have already broken through on the major stages.
Playing his first tournament since clinching the Laver Cup for Team Europe, Zverev appears to be boosted by his Geneva experience—much like he was in May when he won his lone title of the season at the ATP 250 event on clay in Geneva before reaching the French Open quarterfinals. The 6' 6'' German has decimated his opponents this week, beating Frances Tiafoe, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Sam Querrey without dropping a set. More importantly, he didn’t commit a double fault in his last match against Querrey, hitting six aces while serving 74% on his first serve.
Tsitsipas took the scenic route to the final four, defeating both Dusan Lajovic and Nikoloz Basilashvili in tight three-setters, but was nearly perfect in his straight-set dismissal of John Isner in Friday's quarterfinal stage. He owns the head to head advantage 2-1 over Zverev, but appears to be enduring somewhat of a sophomore slump himself. After reaching the Australian Open semifinals in January, Tsitsipas crashed out in the first round of both Wimbledon and the US Open.
This match will likely come down to a battle of court positioning. Oftentimes Zverev plays too far back, relying on his speed and range to play a defense oriented game, perhaps due to his lacking confidence this year. It seems Zverev is turning a corner, and the oddsmakers agree, pegging the reigning ATP Finals champion as a slight favorite.
Don’t expect a straightforward result, but do expect Zverev to come out on top, as he aims to improve his chances of returning to the O2 for the season finale. He entered the week at No. 11 in the Race To London but with his run thus far, has jumped to No. 8.