Match Report

Zverev ends Tabilo's run, reaches third Rome final

German chasing sixth Masters 1000 title
May 17, 2024
Dan Istitene/Getty Images
Alexander Zverev in action on Friday in Rome. By ATP Staff

Alexander Zverev advanced to his 11th ATP Masters 1000 final and first since his catastrophic ankle injury at Roland Garros in 2022 on Friday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where he ended Alejandro Tabilo's run with a hard-fought win.

The German rallied from the brink of defeat to overcome Chilean Tabilo 1-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 in an engaging semi-final in Rome.

"I was just hanging on in the second set. I brought my energy up. I was really just hanging on and waiting and the patience was kind of good today," Zverev said. "He hit me off the court in the first set and I did not play well at all, but he was a big reason why. He gave me no rhythm and I am happy I turned it around in the tie-break and ran away in the third set."

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Zverev started slowly and was unable to deal with Tabilo’s drop shot throughout the opening hour. The 26-year-old, who was competing in his first Masters 1000 semi-final, upset No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings Novak Djokovic in the third round and competed with assuredness until 3/3 in the second-set tie-break, when he started to play more passively.

Zverev quickly pounced on Tabilo’s drop in level to force a decider in the pair’s first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting. The third seed then raised his intensity in the third set to advance to the final in Rome for the third time.

With his two-hour, 16-minute win, Zverev broke his four-match losing streak in tour-level semi-finals. The 27-year-old's last final and title came in Chengdu in September 2023, with his previous championship match at ATP Masters 1000 level coming in Madrid in 2022.

Zverev lifted the trophy in Rome in 2017 when he was just 20 years old and will compete for his sixth ATP Masters 1000 title when he faces American Tommy Paul or Chilean Nicolas Jarry on Sunday. By advancing to the title match, the two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion has tied Boris Becker’s record for the most ATP Masters 1000 finals by a German since the series began in 1990.

Sunday's final is Zverev's biggest since the German suffered an ankle injury in the Roland Garros semi-finals against Rafael Nadal in 2022. He will rise to No. 4 in the PIF ATP Live Rankings if he wins the title in Rome, while he will climb to second in the PIF ATP Live Race To Turin.

Zverev made 69 per cent of his first serves in the match, according to Infosys ATP Stats, and won 80 per cent (45/56) of points behind his opening delivery. In contrast, he won just 36 per cent (9/25) of points on his second serve, with Tabilo taking large cuts at the ball on return.

"If he plays the way he plays it is difficult to be aggressive," Zverev said. "It is hard to just say I am going to hit my forehand harder or backhand harder. If I am just picking up balls it is definitely difficult to do that. The one thing I didn't do well at the beginning was serve well. That was something I think doesn't help. All in all, I am happy in the final. At the end, winning is the most important."

Tabilo did not drop a set en route to the semi-finals and is up seven spots to No. 25 in the PIF ATP Live Rankings. The 26-year-old won his first tour-level title in Auckland in January, while he triumphed at the ATP Challenger Tour 175 event in Aix-en-Provence earlier this month. He was playing at a career-high No. 32 in Rome.

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