The new generation is swiftly climbing their way up the ATP World Tour ladder. Just a week after succumbing to 22-year-old Dominic Thiem in the Stuttgart semi-finals, seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer was stopped again by another youngster in the last-four stage of the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, Germany on Saturday. This time, his conqueror was the very impressive 19-year-old Alexander Zverev, one of the fastest-rising stars in the circuit.
It was surely a memorable moment for the young German when he closed out the 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-3 win in 2 hours 6 minutes in front of his home crowd that included his elder brother, the 149th ranked Mischa Zverev as well.
The opening set turned out to be an extremely hard-fought affair where neither player conceded his serve. After Zverev won that set in a tie-break, they remained neck and neck in the second set too.
It was finally at 5-5 that the eight-time champion earned the first break of the match and calmly served it out to enforce a decider.
Undaunted, the teen simply soared in confidence as the third set progressed and upped the intensity on his returns. As Federer’s unforced error count kept on rising, the German made the breakthrough to surge ahead 4-2 before grabbing the win.
Zverev is the first teenager to topple the 17-time Major winner since Andy Murray beat him in the second round of the Cincinnati Masters in 2006.
He will next be up against his countryman Florian Mayer in the second-ever all-German final at Halle. The former World No. 18 Mayer is currently placed at 192nd in the rankings after losing a chunk of the season due to an adductor tear.
The 32-year-old ended the winning streak of the in-form Dominic Thiem, who crashed out 3-6, 4-6. The World No. 7 had won the Mercedes Cup at Stuttgart last week.
Murray aims for fifth Queen’s crown
No man has ever triumphed at the Aegon Championships five times. On Sunday, top-seeded Andy Murray will go for an unprecedented fifth title at the Queen’s Club when he meets the third seed Milos Raonic.
The defending champion did not have it easy in the semis. The World No. 2 dropped a set en route to posting a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory over the 2012 titlist Marin Cilic. Raonic had a much more-hassle-free time on the court on Saturday as he prevailed 6-4, 6-4 over the 22nd ranked Bernard Tomic.
The Sunday match-up will be intriguing because it will also pit long-time rivals and now coaches Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe against each other. While McEnroe joined forces with Raonic at the start of the grasscourt season, Murray renewed his partnership with former mentor Lendl at the beginning of this week.