*Alcaraz 7-6(3) 3-6 4-5 Zverev The world No 2 was unhappy that I said his opponent was one away. He doesn’t drop a point in a game that lasts about two seconds.
Alcaraz 7-6(3) 3-6 3-5 Zverev* “A bit of a Houdini act there,” says the commentator on Prime Video after Zverev hits a strong forehand that has Alcaraz running with his back to net. The Spaniard gets it to 40-40, hitting an incredibly aggressive forehand before the German responds with a similar move to take the advantage. He finishes off the game with an ace to put him one away.
*Alcaraz 7-6(3) 3-6 3-4 Zverev The Spaniard does’t drop a point as he closes the gap. Zverev looks uncomfortable as he takes a seat, which isn’t surprising given how much he struggled with his previous injury last year. He’s leading in what could be a massive win for him.
Alcaraz 7-6(3) 3-6 2-4 Zverev* Early on in the game, Zverev slides and goes down clutching his ankle. A very similar fall to the one that caused him a big injury last year at the French Open. He takes a second as the umpire and Alcaraz check on him, but he seems OK to continue. He takes the game after a fantastic first serve, a lovely volley to put his opponent under pressure, and a speedy ace. He’s ahead, but he looks to be in pain, as he shakes his ankle out.
*Alcaraz 7-6(3) 3-6 2-3 Zverev Break! Alcaraz seems to want to finish rallies earlier than he needs to and he ends up hitting a short shot straight into the net. He pinches his nose in frustration before then hitting a forehand too long to give Zverev a 40-30 lead. The Spaniard then opts to not volley Zverev’s return, thinking it will be out. It isn’t and the German takes the lead.
Alcaraz 7-6(3) 3-6 2-2 Zverev* The German breezes by to a second win in this set after Alcarz’s sends a shot during the early stages of a rally closer to the fans then inside the lines of the court. In other exciting news, play had to be stopped because confetti kept appearing on the court. Possibly already prepared for the final? Who knows?
*Alcaraz 7-6(3) 3-6 2-1 Zverev Wow! Alcaraz with a lovely short volley to make it 40-40. Zverev is fuming, mostly at himself but partly at his team too. The Spaniard then takes the set to save a break point.
Alcaraz 7-6(3) 3-6 1-1 Zverev* The German gets to 40-0 but he nets a relatively easy shot to make it 40-15. Would be easy to lose your head, but he manages to impress in the next rally with his final shot right on the line. “More out than in,” the commentators joke on Prime Video.
*Alcaraz 7-6(3) 3-6 1-0 Zverev Back to the tennis, and Alcaraz takes the first game of the decider. Zverev serving and receiving seems to be two different players at the moment.
Some emails have come in.
Cameron: Alcaraz is such a joy to watch. I am so excited to see his progress. I do wonder though, if tennis will be boring when Djokovic retires and he just wins every single tournament on the tour.
I get what you mean, but he has lost the last six tournaments. It’s not like they were all at the hands of Novak.
Emily: Zverev’s height seems to be a huge advantage. And then you watch him net some basic shots that should easily clear …
He certainly hasn’t been playing his best today. Some silly errors with shots in the net.
The German is keeping the points short and his serve has been immense in this second set. We’re all tied up here in Turin.
*Alcaraz 7-6(3) 3-5 Zverev The story of this set so far is pretty much whoever is serving, breezes to take the game. A great half-volley proves that Alcaraz isn’t out of this yet.
Alcaraz 7-6(3) 2-5 Zverev* Again, just real efficiency every time Zverev is serving. His penultimate point is incredibly powerful and it hits Alcaraz hard on the hip. A quick apology from the German comes as the two share a smile, before an ace closes out the game.
*Alcaraz 7-6(3) 2-4 Zverev A flying ace to make it 40-0 defines this game as the Spaniard gets one back. We’d be foolish to count him out at this stage.
Alcaraz 7-6(3) 1-4 Zverev* This seems to be a much more efficient set. It is flying by so far. But right now, Alcaraz doesn’t seem to have the answers for Zverev’s powerful shots. He’s making the Spaniard run back and forth while he dictates play.
*Alcaraz 7-6(3) 1-3 Zverev And I spoke too soon, I guess. Alcaraz takes this one without dropping a single point, as Zverev’s final return in the game goes out.
Alcaraz 7-6(3) 0-3 Zverev* Flawless so far in this set from Zverev. It was a shaky first game of the second set, but a win is a win, and he has seemingly has gotten rid of the initial nerves. Alcaraz, on the other hand, looks a shadow of the first set. He seems to be holding back from taking the risky shots that he loves so much.
*Alcaraz 7-6(3) 0-2 Zverev Break! Is the German back in this? Can he capitalise?
Alcaraz 7-6(3) 0-1 Zverev* The first game of the second set looked to be an easy one for Zverev, but just as quickly, it began to slip away. He turns to his bench with a long face. His forehand is just not working for him at the moment.
We go back and forth for a while as each player gains an advantage, but Alcaraz’s passivity bites him, and a confidence-lacking Zverev takes the game.
The momentum is certainly with Alcaraz at the moment and he’s really shown how well-rounded of a player he is.
Any thoughts on the game or either player you want to share? Send me an email!
Not a particularly remarkable tie-break, but what a fun set overall. Some fantastic drop shots from Alcaraz, and some self-inflicted punishment from Zverev, despite having some standout moments as well.
Alcaraz 6-6 Zverev (2-2) We’ve hit 60 minutes of play and neither player is letting up. Zverev challenges what he thinks is a great winner, but it’s out.
Alcaraz 6-6 Zverev* This game had it all! Alcaraz’s play actually seems ridiculous sometimes. He takes the first point of the game with a lethal shot that just grazes the line, leaving no chance for his opponent to get anywhere near it. He follows it up with repertoire of great shots, with his pure athleticism just proving too much for Zverev. The German manages to respond with a strong serve to take a point, but Alcaraz excels in a rally to make it 40-15. However, just when you think the Spaniard will take the set-point, Zverev responds with a second serve ace of pure speed and follows it up with another point after Alcaraz’s failed chip return to make it 40-40. Alcaraz then takes the advantage, but a missed shot goes well wide – a massive let off for Zverev who somehow, seemingly against all odds, takes it to a tie-break. Huge missed chance for the world No 2.
*Alcaraz 6-5 Zverev Some tricky shots in this game from both players. Alcaraz hits a drop shot but Zverev hustles to get forward and punishes the Spaniard at his own game. In the next point, Alcaraz learns his lesson, capitalises on the shortness of Zverev’s return, and gets back in it. He deservedly takes the game, and we may be heading to an opening set tie-breaker here.
Alcaraz 5-5 Zverev* Two huge serves from the 26-year-old was the highlight of that game. Alcaraz tried to return both, but they were too fast and powerful and take him to 40-15. He sees out the game after a quick rally. We’re all even once again.
*Alcaraz 5-4 Zverev Someone shouts ‘change the rules’ after the umpire tells Zverev that she didn’t hear the ball bounce where he said it did.
Back to to the actual tennis, we go back and forth between advantages until a fantastic rally sees the German net a shot. The crowd roars with delight at the spectacle.
Zverev’s forehand errors are mounting and it is being exploited. He needs to eliminate those if he doesn’t want his opponent to run away with it.
*Alcaraz 4-4 Zverev So even, this match! It’s Zverev’s turn to be ruthless on the serve and he makes it all square in a very quick game.
*Alcaraz 4-3 Zverev That was a long game but it goes to Alcaraz in the end. Both players are struggling to defend second serves and there are certainly some cheap, and unavoidable errors happening in Turin.
Zverev earns a triple break point with a strong forehand but Alcaraz manages to save all three to go on and take the game.
Some interesting analysis from Prime Video that shows how Zverev is stepping back after his serve is returned, something he would want to avoid as it allows Alcaraz to neutralise the advantage of the serve rather quickly.
Alcaraz 3-3 Zverev* Break! Wow! Fantastic skill from Alcaraz to earn the first point. He’s under great pressure on three consecutive shots but somehow manages to twist, turn, and get back to force Zverev into mis-hitting the ball. A tricky drop shot earns him his second point, and the smooth sailing continues from there, as he takes the game without dropping a point.
*Alcaraz 2-3 Zverev The crowd urges the world No 2 on, and he gives them a fantastic ace. His opponent challenges it but it’s just in. Pure agony on Zverev’s face and Alcaraz sees out the game with the German failing to return a serve in the final point.
So far, an incredibly even match.
Alcaraz 1-3 Zverev* The 26-year-old goes 40-0 but a smash into the net means he has to prolong the game. Not for long though, as Alcaraz can’t capitalise on the mistake, and the German leads 3-1 in the first set.
*Alcaraz 1-2 Zverev Break! Zverev’s fantastic forehand causes problems for Alcaraz and its spin just catches the Spaniard out to make it 0-30. The German then pulls of a trick drop-shot to get two break points before a strong rally sees out the game.
Alcaraz 1-1 Zverev* Zverev looks to make his opponent work during this game, and he pulls it off successfully, a powerful backhan seeing the Spaniard scramble and hit the ball all the way up and out.
*Alcaraz 1-0 Zverev (*denotes server) Alcaraz goes to 30 really quickly, and looks extremely comfortable with his serve. The German seems a bit rusty, and hits two relatively easy shots out, giving Alcaraz the first game.
Zverev won the toss, and he chose to receive. Ready? Play.
Here we go! Zverev comes out first, aiming to begin his campaign to win a third ATP Finals title and he’s followed by debutant Alcaraz.
The staging in Turin is incredibly dramatic, which I personally love. The DJ has gone all out as well. Let’s hope the actual tennis matches this pre-match show.
As we wait for our players to come out, let’s take a look at how Zverev is approaching this match, and how he’ll channel his previous wins against Alcaraz.
(You have) to be at your best. The times that I have beaten him, I was playing my absolute best tennis. If you are not quite there, if you are a little slow-ish, if you are not hitting the ball as well as you can, you don’t have any chance.
Djokavic speaks after taking a few pictures with the trophy.
It’s the crown of the season. Finishing No 1 is a dream of every tennis player. One of the most difficult thing to do in our sport. To be able to stand here is a blessing.
He thanks his team and gives a shoutout to the fans in Turin before he poses for more photos.
Ah, I realise why we are running behind schedule. Before the match, they are presenting Novak Djokovic with his record-extending eighth ATP Year-End No 1 trophy.
He secured the honour after his win last night, and comes out to cheers in Turin.
We are now getting a video montage of his best moments of the season.
This game was scheduled for 1.30pm GMT but the players aren’t even on the court yet, so I think it is safe to say we will be behind schedule.
Outside tennis, Zverev was issued with penalty order over ‘abuse’ of ex-girlfriend.
More on that story from Tumaini Carayol below.
So much has been said about Alcaraz, and he has certainly backed up all the talk, but that doesn’t mean Zverev winning today would be a big shock. In fact, this might be one of his best chances to get one over the Spaniard.
Alcaraz has never played a round-robin style tournament before, which will certainly take some mental strength getting used to. Zverev’s style of play also suits the indoor court, something that Alcaraz can struggle with.
Plus, for the 20-year-old, this is the longest period he has gone without a title since 2022. It has been six tournaments since his Wimbledon win. Could that be affecting him and thus give Zverev an advantage.
Am I reaching to try to make this sound like a more even match? I am not sure. I guess we will find out.
How do today’s opponents fare against each other? They have played six matches and their head-to-head record is exactly even, each winning three.
Their most recent one was none other than the quarter-final of the US Open, which Alcaraz won 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. The Spaniard went on to fall to Daniil Medvedev in the semis.
A flashback to that tournament at Flushing Meadows and these words from Tim Joyce still ring true.
What makes Alcaraz so immensely appealing, aside from his contagious personality and varied game that seamlessly toggles from elegance to power, is the fact that he’s not a giant.
He has also almost single handedly brought back a more aggressive, forward moving style. Looking to attack the net at the earliest possible point in rallies, Alcaraz has dominated not by using pure power groundstrokes or serve, but by redefining aggressiveness in today’s game.
Let’s see if he can bring that style to this tournament.
Yesterday the Green Group got under way and Novak Djokovic ensured that he will finish the year ranked world No 1 after beating Holger Rune 7-6 (4), 6-7 (1), 6-3.
“It took everything. I knew it was going to be a tough night for me. I thought (Rune) played great. I played great in some moments. Overall a win is a win. It was a very emotional win and a tough win knowing the significance of the match,” Djokovic told Prime Video after his win.
Jannik Sinner also got off to a winning start by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Good afternoon! Day two of the ATP Finals is here, and what an exciting opening match we have in the Red Group – Carlos Alcaraz v Alexander Zverev.
Alcaraz is making his debut at the ATP Finals. He qualified last year but missed out due to an abdominal injury. The 20-year-old suffered a shock loss against Roman Safiullin in the opening match of the Paris Masters earlier this month, and he is hopeful that he gain regain the form he had when he picked up his first Wimbledon title.
“I’m expecting the Carlos from early this year (in Turin), despite the results I’ve had in recent tournaments. The defeat in Paris, which was quite painful, made me realise that I have to work harder,” he said.
Unlike his opponent, Zverev has been here before. He’s won this tournament twice, in 2018 and 2021, making him and Novak Djokovic the only active players to win multiple titles at the ATP Finals. The German had a tough start to the season as he built up strength from an ankle injury but he’s on the up at the moment, claiming two ATP tour titles this summer in Hamburg and Chengdu.
“It was difficult in the beginning. I was nowhere near even thinking about Turin. I was thinking about how to win matches. I was barely winning matches. I was barely making points as well. It kind of turned around in the summer for me. I made the semi-finals of Roland Garros. I think that was a big turning point for me. From then onwards, it was fun to be on the tennis court again,” he said on his tumultuous season.
Hopefully it’s a cracker. Have any thoughts, questions, musings or complaints that you want to share? Send me an email!