© Michel Pomier

#NextGen Star Zverev Into Maiden Final in Nice

German sees off Sousa

Next Generation star Alexander Zverev saw off Portugal’s Joao Sousa 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 to advance to the final of the Open de Nice Cote d’Azur on Friday. The 19-year-old Zverev won only two more points than his opponent (95-93), but prevailed in two hours and 14 minutes to reach his first ATP World Tour final after losing in his first four semi-final appearances.

“I am very tired, but very proud to be in the final,” the 2015 Emirates ATP Star of Tomorrow award recipient said. “Joao came back strongly in the second set and I had to step up my game in the third.”

Zverev was up a set and a break at 6-4, 1-0, but dropped serve three times in the second set to force a decider. In the third set, the 6’6” Hamburg native rediscovered his serving rhythm, landing 66 per cent of first serves and saving four break points to secure his 21st tour-level win of the year.

Zverev’s final opponent will be one of his best friends on the ATP World Tour: top seed Dominic Thiem. The Austrian, second only to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in matches won this year, notched his 35th win of 2016 by routing Adrian Mannarino 6-1, 6-3 in just over an hour. Thiem only lost two first-serve points in the match and went 5-for-13 on break point opportunities.

“I’ve played two tough matches against him before, but they were both on hard court. Maybe he prefers hard courts and I prefer clay. That’s why it was a bit easier,” Thiem said. “I like the conditions here, and I’ve been feeling better than in previous weeks.”

Thiem and Zverev’s only previous tour-level meeting came at the BMW Open by FWU AG in Munich a few weeks ago. The Austrian prevailed 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Thiem won his maiden title in Nice last year and will try to secure his third title of the season (Acapulco and Buenos Aires).

“It’s our second match in three weeks,” Thiem said. “In Munich, we already knew that we were going to play against each other many more times. Hopefully he’ll be a bit tired from all the tough matches he’s played. But he’ll put all his energy into it and I expect a great match tomorrow.”

Top Seeds To Clash For Doubles Title

Top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah downed third seeds Eric Butorac and Scott Lipsky 6-2, 6-3 to set up a final against second seeds Mate Pavic and Michael Venus. Cabal/Farah fired six aces, saved all three break points faced and claimed the win in exactly 60 minutes. The Colombians will play for their third team title of 2016, all on clay (Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires).

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