The Mutua Madrid Open is one of Alexander Zverev’s favourite events on the circuit and today was the day of his opening match. Defending champion and 2018 winner, the German has produced some stellar performances on the Madrid clay. Fans will long remember his clashes with Rafa Nadal and Dominic Thiem. Alexander Zverev is looking to rediscover his best tennis in Madrid and reclaim the title at the 2022 Mutua Madrid Open on its twentieth anniversary.
His first match in this MMO22 will perhaps not be remembered as his most spectacular, but Zverev saw it through successfully; no mean feat. He was facing a Marin Cilic who had just knocked out Albert Ramos in a match that lasted over two hours. The former world number three has not enjoyed a good run of form in recent months. Despite that, he was more than able to compete with the German throughout the match. So much so that he convincingly took the first set (6-4) and made the second very difficult for the man on the other side of the net. In the decider, the holder of the throne showed why he is the third best player in the world. With both players serving well, Cilic was unable to fend off the shots of a Zverev who closed out the set and the match (4-6).
The current No. 3 in the ATP Ranking stuttered his way into this season. He crashed out of the Australian Open, demonstrating that the Grand Slams are still a work in progress for him. He reached the final in Montpellier but his disqualification in Acapulco halted his progression. The fast-court season was hard on a Zverev who lost in the first round in Indian Wells and in the quarters in Miami. In addition, German was in the news off court.
Since the tournament in Miami, Zverev has been working with Sergi Bruguera. He was previously a pupil of Juan Carlos Ferrero and David Ferrer. The mentality of Spanish coaches and players caught the German’s eye and he has made a strong commitment to the Spanish way of doing things in a bid to stay at the top of world tennis. With the clay season drawing to a close, Madrid is one of his last opportunities to do something big on the red stuff.
His hopes were rekindled in Monte Carlo, where he strung together a number of good matches on the clay with victories over the likes of Carreño and Sinner, both of whom provided good tests before he met Tsitsipas in the semis. He would lose to the Greek but he was performing well on clay. Until he arrived in Munich. He was playing at home and expectations of him were high. His first-round defeat to Holger Rune was one of the worst of his career. Last year he also bowed out early in the German city (round 2) and went on to win in Madrid. With today’s win, he has taken his first step. Could history repeat itself?