The Sascha Train Keeps Rolling In Basel
Alexander Zverev continues to build momentum with less than two weeks to go until the Nitto ATP Finals, defeating Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 6-3 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Swiss Indoors Basel.
"On this surface, he’s an unbelievable opponent," Zverev said of Bautista Agut. "His ball is so flat, the surface really slides it through and you don’t have a lot of chances to attack him, so you have to be patient."
Before the recent Rolex Shanghai Masters, Zverev failed to reach the semi-finals in four consecutive tournaments. But since arriving in Shanghai, the 21-year-old has won six of seven matches, with all six of those victories coming in straight sets. The second seed leads the ATP World Tour with 52 match wins this season.
The World No. 5 is trying to win his 10th ATP World Tour title, and his fourth of the season. No German has triumphed in Basel since 1994, when Michael Stich lifted the trophy. In the tournament’s history, since 1975, only one other German has emerged victorious at the event: Boris Becker in 1993.
Zverev and Bautista Agut battled it out from the back of the court throughout the match, with both players attempting to hold their ground on the baseline. The Spaniard did well to keep Zverev from controlling points with his flat, penetrating groundstrokes. But the German had too much weight of shot, and his weapons — especially his two-handed backhand — were ultimately too strong for the eighth seed.
Zverev, whose lone previous appearance in Basel came four years ago, now leads Bautista Agut 4-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. He has won eight of his past nine sets against the Spaniard.
In the next round, Zverev will face Romanian Marius Copil, who ousted #NextGenATP American Taylor Fritz 7-6(6), 7-5. The qualifier, who has not lost a set in qualifying or the main draw, advanced to his first ATP World Tour semi-final and final earlier this season in Sofia, ultimately losing to Mirza Basic in the championship match.
Copil is currently No. 93 in the ATP Rankings, but he also defeated London hopeful and third seed Marin Cilic in the second round. Against Fritz, Copil struck 18 aces and saved 10 of the 11 break points he faced to advance after one hour and 52 minutes.
"He’s playing the tournament of his life, probably," Zverev said. "He’s obviously a big guy, big server, hits the ball very hard, and it’s going to be a tough match."