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Fourth seed Alexander Zverev strikes a forehand en route to beating Nikoloz Basilashvili on Wednesday in Shanghai.

Zverev Moves A Step Closer, Now Plays De Minaur In Shanghai

De Minaur beats Paire for the third time

Alexander Zverev moved one step closer to qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals on Wednesday by winning his opening match at the Rolex Shanghai Masters. The fourth-seeded German knocked out in-form Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 7-5, 6-4 in just over 90 minutes at the Qi Zhong Stadium.

“I played all right," said Zverev. "I played a solid match. I did everything that I needed to win. Focused a lot, focused on my game. As you can probably hear in my voice, I'm a little sick right now, so feeling a little bit low energy, but I hope it will get better over the next few days."

Zverev, the next in line to qualify for November's season finale, improved to 47-15 on the season – second only to Dominic Thiem (48) for most tour-level match wins in 2018. He must reach at least the Shanghai semi-finals in order to join Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro and Roger Federer at The O2 in London from 11-18 November. Buy Your London Tickets

Zverev is competing at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament without his golf-mad coach, former World No. 1 Ivan Lendl, who is recovering from an operation in the United States. The German told reporters, “He has had wrist surgery. He had to fly back… He just has some sort of small wrist surgery… and then he'll be back to Europe. He's playing too much [golf].”

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After an early exchange of service breaks, Zverev saved three break points at 3-4 and completed the 50-minute opener with an ace, to end a run of three straight games. The 21-year-old broke clear in the third game of the second set against Basilashvili, last week’s China Open titlist (d. Del Potro).

Zverev, who is through to the Shanghai third round for the third consecutive year, lifted his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown earlier this year at the Mutua Madrid Open (d. Thiem), becoming the first player to win a clay-court title without being broken since the ATP started keeping stats in 1991. He also retained silverware at the BMW Open by FWU (d. Kohlschreiber) and the Citi Open, beating Australia’s Alex de Minaur, his next opponent.

When asked about De Minaur, Zverev said, “He's had a fantastic year. He's nearly Top 30 and obviously playing great tennis, as well. I played him twice this year. Once was a very tough match in Davis Cup, which went to a very long five sets [and] the other one was in the Washington final where I played great. Obviously, it's not going to be an easy match, especially on this surface. I'm looking forward to it.”

De Minaur, a fellow #NextGenATP star, advanced to the third round of a Masters 1000 for the first time in beating France’s Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-3 in 90 minutes. The two-time ATP World Tour finalist, now 26-24 on the year, is a contender to qualify for the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan from 6-10 November. Buy Your Milan Tickets

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