Mayer Survives Zverev For Halle Crown

German takes fifth match point for Halle title

Less than two years ago, Florian Mayer's career was in jeopardy following an adductor injury. On Sunday, he returned to the ATP World Tour winners' circle, overcoming a stern test from countryman Alexander Zverev to clinch the Gerry Weber Open title 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.

At World No. 192 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, Mayer is the lowest-ranked tour-level winner since No. 240 Nicolas Mahut was victorious in 's-Hertogenbosch in 2013. The German veteran, whose second ATP World Tour title came nearly five years removed from his maiden triumph on the clay of Bucharest, is also the first homegrown winner in Halle since Tommy Haas in 2012. He takes home €386,925 in prize money and 500 Emirates ATP Rankings points, and is projected to rise more than 100 spots to the Top 100.

"I would say it’s the biggest win in my career to win a 500 event here in Germany on grass," said Mayer. "If you see the list of champions in the past here and now my name is on the list, I cannot believe it.

"I had a hard time with so many injuries and not playing tournaments. So, it’s a special moment now for me to come back and win a 500 tournament. It helps a lot to be back in the Top 100 also. With one tournament everything changes now for my [Emirates ATP Ranking] and to plan for bigger tournaments in the future." 

In just the second all-German final in the 24-year tournament history, Zverev looked to send a message from the start, rifling forehands at will. After pushing his countryman to deuce in his opening service game, the 19 year old would conjure a break point in his second.

But a steady Mayer would not be rattled. The 32 year old turned aside the break chance and ran away with the opening set from there. Executing his patient and crafty game, behind a heavy dose of lobs, Mayer held to love for 3-2 and converted his first break opportunities in both the sixth and eighth games. A flash of brilliance came from Zverev's racquet while trailing 4-2 40/0, as the #NextGen star fired a tweener winner down the line, but it would not be enough to stem the tide. Mayer would take the opener after 24 minutes.

Lowest-Ranked ATP World Tour Winners In 2016

Player
Emirates ATP Ranking

Tournament

Florian Mayer
No. 192
Halle
Juan Monaco
No. 148
Houston
Diego Schwartzman
No. 87
Istanbul
Fernando Verdasco
No. 86
Bucharest
Nicolas Almagro
No. 71
Estoril

As quickly as Mayer snatched the first set, Zverev shifted the momentum in the second. Exhibiting the poise and composure of a veteran, he reeled off nine of the first 10 points of the set, breaking in the opening game and consolidating for 2-0. A double fault would give Mayer the break back for 3-3, but Zverev's steely resolve remained the theme of the day. Behind two mammoth first serves, the teen turned aside a pair of match points while serving to stay in it at 5-4. In stunning fashion, he would steal a break in the next game with a backhand pass and force a decider on Gerry Weber Stadion.

Nerves would trump fatigue in the third set. They remained on serve until the sixth game, when a visibly labouring Mayer broke to love, reeling off 11 straight points for a 5-2 lead. He would deny a break point when serving for the match a game later, closing it out on his fifth championship point after one hour and 55 minutes.

Mayer, who stunned World No. 7 and 2016 ATP World Tour wins leader Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals, joins Haas (2009, '12), Philipp Kohlschreiber (2011), David Prinosil (2000), Nicolas Kiefer (1999) and Michael Stich (1994) as German champions on the lawns of Halle.

Zverev, meanwhile, was bidding for his maiden crown in just his second final, following a defeat on the clay of Nice last month to Thiem. The #NextGen charge on the ATP World Tour is in full swing, marking the fifth time a teenager has reached a title match. Borna Coric (Chennai, Marrakech) and Taylor Fritz (Memphis) are other teen finalists. Zverev, who was also attempting to become the youngest titlist in Gerry Weber Open history, registered the biggest win of his career in toppling eight-time champion Roger Federer on Saturday. He takes home €181,720 and 300 Emirates ATP Rankings points.

"It was a positive week," said Zverev. "I played really good tennis in all my matches. Against Roger obviously it was a great highlight. Unfortunately, it had to end like this. But it happens. This is tennis. You can’t change it now.

"I served worse than the days before, I hit double faults in important moments. In the third set, the way he broke me, I missed four shots. That can’t happen. I had a lot of 30-all chances which I played really bad in. He played very well. In the important moments he played very well. He deserves to win today, he was the better player. It’s as simple as that."