Zverev’s victory brings Germany level with Italy
Mixed doubles will settle the match
December 30, 2023
Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Alexander Zverev will start the 2024 season in the top 10 in the world.
From ATP/WTA staff
Alexander Zverev scored an emphatic 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-4 win over Lorenzo Sonego on Saturday night to book the Germany United Cup final against Italy in the mixed doubles final in Sydney. I sent it in.
Earlier in the evening, Jasmine Paolini overcame a seizure to beat Angelique Kerber 6-4, 7-5 in her return match from maternity leave to give Italy a 1-0 lead.
Sonego battled Zverev from the start, winning 18 of 24 net approaches and defeating the two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion in a first-set tiebreak. However, Sonego was unable to overcome Zverev’s overwhelming serving throughout the match. The 26-year-old won 81 percent of his first serves and 74 percent of his second serves in the two-hour, 52-minute battle without facing a break point.
“The first set was one of the best sets I’ve seen him play, but I just looked for a way to get back into the game,” Zverev said. “The first game of the season was nothing to complain about and now he’s in the mix.”
Zverev starts the season with strength and confidence, but is a far cry from his interim return in 2023, when he returned from a serious ankle injury sustained at Roland Garros in mid-2022 that ended his season.
Zverev withdrew from both matches in the first United Cup and lost in the second round of the Australian Open. He won only three of his first nine matches of the year, but regained his best form as the season progressed, earning him a spot in the ATP Finals at the end of the year.
Earlier in the evening, Paolini looked good at 6-4, 3-1, but was forced to come back from a 3-4 deficit after withdrawing two games to undergo treatment in the second set. .
We will fight until the end! 😤
— United Cup (@UnitedCupTennis) December 30, 2023
Kerber, a three-time Grand Slam champion, gave birth to daughter Liana in February and this was her first appearance since Wimbledon in 2022. But Paolini, who rose from 59th place last season to a career-high 30th place and was nominated for Most Improved Player in 2023, was able to overcome the German with riveting play. Ta. 1 hour 48 minutes.
A nail-biting first set saw at least one break point in eight of the 10 matches, and the momentum shifted gradually until the end on a knife’s edge. Kerber’s trademark down-the-line forehand worked to take a 3-1 lead, but Paolini reeled in four games in a row to take a 5-3 lead. The Italian was unable to serve out the set, but survived an impressive seven-deuce battle with winners on both teams to earn his sixth set point in the next game.
Paolini pushed to regain a break lead in the second set, leading 6-4, 3-2 when he found himself in another marathon game. On her sixth break point of the match, she grabbed her left calf and fell to the ground. Paolini was required to withdraw from her entire match until the next change of ends in order to receive treatment for her, and she returned to the court with a 3-4 record.
However, Kerber took advantage of Paolini’s impediment and quickly broke for 5-3, reaching set point, but the German could no longer display his early intensity. Paolini showed incredible fortitude in the homestretch, relying on the power of his shot-making to put up a string of winners, totaling 35 wins and winning the final four games of the match.