Rising tennis talent Alexander Zverev continues to make his way to the top echelons of the sport as he ousted the eighth seed and former US Open champion Marin Cilic in the second round of the Shanghai Masters on Tuesday. The 19-year-old, who recently beat Stan Wawrinka for the St. Petersburg title, rebounded from a first-set loss for a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory over Cilic in 1 hour 54 minutes.
Zverev thundered seven aces and broke the Croatian thrice in this contest.
Zverev’s maiden title win and a subsequent run to the quarter-finals of the China Open have pushed him up to a career-high No. 21 in the rankings. The Hamburg native is aiming for a top-20 year-end finish and trails the 20th ranked Ivo Karlovic by just 50 points.
The young German next meets the ninth seed and 2015 runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for a place in the quarter-finals. Tsonga, who has come back to the Tour after recovering from a knee injury, showed no signs of slowing down and emerged a 6-3, 7-6(6) winner over Serbia’s Janko Tipsarevic.
Zverev was not the only rising star winning on Tuesday. Japan Open champion Nick Kyrgios picked up from where he had left in Tokyo and cruised through his opener in Shanghai. The 21-year-old, seeded 12th at this tournament, beat Sam Querrey, 6-4, 6-4 to set up a second round meeting with qualifier Mischa Zverev.
13th seeded Lucas Pouille, who had earlier clinched the Moselle Open, too was impressive in his first round. The 22-year-old prevailed 6-3, 6-3 over Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco.
Smooth sailing for Djokovic; Del Potro, Ferrer lose
Top seed and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic made a successful return to the ATP Tour with a thumping 6-3, 6-3 win over Fabio Fognini. The defending champion had pulled out of last week’s China Open due to an elbow injury.
But two other ATP stars did not enjoy the same good fortunes. Rio Olympic silver medallist Juan Martin del Potro, who reached the final in 2013, lost a tight three-setter to the 11th seed David Goffin in the first round. The Argentine was a set and a break up from where he went on to lose 6-4, 3-6, 5-7 in 2 hours 18 minutes.
10th seeded Spaniard David Ferrer too bowed out of the tournament after succumbing to a 6(3)-7, 6-4, 6(4)-7 loss to compatriot Feliciano Lopez in Round 1. Ferrer had reached the semi-finals of the China Open last week where he lost to eventual winner Andy Murray.
There were, however, no such problems for China Open runner-up Grigor Dimitrov, who toppled the 14th seeded Richard Gasquet, 6-4, 6-4 to enter the second round.