Zverev Serves Past Kotov, Dimitrov Hits 400 In Chengdu
Alexander Zverev was given a mighty test by Pavel Kotov on Saturday at the Chengdu Open, but the top seed turned to his trusty first serve to fire him through an entertaining clash at the hard-court ATP 250.
Zverev prevailed 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-1 after winning 86 per cent (43/50) of points behind his first delivery on his Chengdu debut. Despite struggling to shake off the World No. 106 Kotov for much of the match, Zverev pulled away in the deciding set to wrap a two-hour, 26-minute victory and reach his ninth tour-level quarter-final of the year.
“The best players in the world find a way to win when they’re not playing great, and today I definitely was far away from playing great,” said Zverev, who converted three of six break points he earned against Kotov. “In the end I won and that’s the most important thing. I am still in the tournament.”
The 26-year-old German’s next opponent in Sichuan province will be seventh seed Miomir Kecmanovic. He is delighted to be competing for the first time since 2019 in China, where he has never won a title but has reached a championship match at the Rolex Shanghai Masters (l. to Medvedev in 2019).
“I think the Chinese fans have missed tennis,” said Zverev. “We haven’t been here in four years. It’s been a very long time for everybody. I enjoy playing here, I enjoy coming back to China. Historically I played quite OK here and I can hopefully keep that streak going.”
With his victory against Kotov, Zverev rose above Holger Rune into seventh in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. He will hope to forge a deep run in Chengdu as he looks to boost his prospects of qualifying for the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals, where he is a two-time champion.
The Bulgarian, who is making his third appearance at the Chinese hard-court event, struck the ball cleanly in his first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting against Varillas. He also recovered from squandering a break advantage in the second set to advance after one hour and 26 minutes.
The 32-year-old Dimitrov captured his first win at an ATP Tour event in Rotterdam in 2009, defeating Tomas Berdych in three sets. Dimitrov has since lifted eight tour-level titles, rising to a career-high No. 3 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Dimitrov will next face Christopher O’Connell as he continues his quest for his first title of the season. Earlier this year, the World No. 20 reached the final in Geneva.
Second seed Lorenzo Musetti also advanced after pulling through a marathon clash against #NextGenATP Australian Philip Sekulic. Musetti accelerated through the deciding set to prevail 7-6(3), 6-7(4), 6-0 in two hours, 54 minutes and reach his first quarter-final on hard courts this year. He will next take on Arthur Rinderknech, after the Frenchman saw off Marcos Giron 7-6(2), 6-4.