Fifth seed Alexander Zverev of Germany overcame third seed Dominic Thiem of Austria 6-3, 6-4 in 1 hour and 37 minutes to qualify for the final of the Madrid Open. Zverev, who had beat top seed Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, is yet to drop a set in the tournament this year.
The 24-year-old will play his eight Masters 1000 final on Sunday, where he will face the winner of the tie between Casper Ruud and Matteo Berettini. On that note, here's a look at the three factors which stood out in the semifinal match:
#1 Alexander Zverev played some relentlessly attacking tennis
Alexander Zverev continued to play the attacking brand of tennis that had helped him overpower Rafael Nadal in his previous match. He hit 25 winners on Saturday, out of which 14 came off his forehand.
It has to be noted in this context that Zverev had hit 18 forehand winners against Nadal.
The German used his groundstrokes to good effect against Dominic Thiem, and made sure that the Austrian stayed well behind the baseline for a majority of the time. His backhand was less devastating than his forehand, but it helped him set up quite a few points too.
Dominic Thiem couldn't match the sheer firepower and aggression of his German opponent on the day, and ended up finishing second best.
#2 Dominic Thiem’s serve let him down
The quality of Dominic Thiem’s serve in the match left a lot to be desired. While his first serve ratio was fairly respectable in the first set, it dropped well below 50% in the second. As a result, he got broken twice in the second set, and had to work really hard to hold his serve throughout.
Alexander Zverev, on the other hand, served really well and had a first serve ratio of well over 60%. He also hit seven aces, and the average speed of his first serve was around 218 kmph.
The difference in the quality of their respective serves made quite a big impact on the final result.
#3 Alexander Zverev made good use of the conditions
The conditions at the Manolo Santana stadium were quite different from the ones usually seen on clay, and Alexander Zverev made good use of them. The speed of the surface was quite high for a claycourt, and Zverev wisely didn't hold back; he kept pummeling Dominic Thiem with his heavy groundstrokes.
Moreover, the high bounce of the court meant that Thiem had to meet most of Zverev’s serves at shoulder level, and his return game suffered accordingly. The German's imposing height (6 feet 6 inches) also made things difficult for Thiem.
The Austrian frequently resorted to the backhand slice, and tried to slow down the speed of the rallies. But Zverev played to his strengths and proved to be too strong for Thiem in the end.