Alexander Zverev claimed his maiden Masters title when he upset world number two Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-3 at the Italian Open on Sunday. The 20-year-old German will break into the top 10 for the first time.Zverev completely outplayed Djokovic, a 30-time Masters winner, controlling play from the back of the Foro Italico showcourt and serving impeccably to avoid facing a single break point.
Zverev himself broke in the very first game against an opponent who appeared drained after having to win two matches on Saturday to reach the final.
Among the contenders
Zverev is the youngest Masters winner since a 19-year-old Djokovic won the 2007 Miami Open and will jump from world number 17 to number 10 when the rankings are updated on Monday.
That will make him the youngest top 10 player since Juan Martin del Potro in 2008 and he is also the first player born after 1988 – Zverev was born in 1997 – to win a Masters, ATP finals or grand slam crown.
The Hamburg native must now be considered among the contenders for the French Open when the second slam of the year – and the only one on clay – starts at the end of this month.
The last German to win a Masters honor was Tommy Haas at the 2001 Stuttgart Indoors and the last finalist Nicolas Kiefer nine years ago.
Djokovic, whose dip in form has seen Andy Murray take over as world number one, announced after the match American great Andre Agassi would coach him at Roland Garros.
Sunk without trace
In the Rome women’s event, Elina Svitolina claimed her fourth title of the season after Simona Halep sunk without trace in the final set.
Svitolina’s 4-6 7-5 6-1 victory meant she added the Rome crown to the ones she took in Taipei, Dubai and Istanbul.
Halep, who won in Madrid last week, took the first set and, although she rolled her right ankle at one point, the Romanian appeared to be coasting towards a win when she broke in the opening game of the second.
But Svitolina forced her way back into the match, as she hit back to take a 3-1 lead and held off several fightbacks from Halep to level the match in the 12th game.
Svitolina raced to a 5-0 lead in the final set before completing a Tour-leading 31st match win this year.