Zverev Defeats Sonego In Dubai To Reach First Semi-final Of 2023

  • Posted: Mar 02, 2023

Zverev Defeats Sonego In Dubai To Reach First Semi-final Of 2023

Seventh seed to meet Rublev or van de Zandschulp in semi-finals

After a long road back, Alexander Zverev is showing plenty of promising signs this week at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The German defeated Lorenzo Sonego 7-5, 6-4 on Thursday at the hard-court ATP 500 to reach his first semi-final since he suffered a serious ankle injury at Roland Garros in 2022. In a clash between two of the biggest servers on Tour, Zverev clinched a decisive single break in both sets for his sixth tour-level win of the year.

“It’s been a very difficult time for me over, I would say, the last nine months,” said Zverev in his on-court interview. “I haven’t played tennis at all for such a long period for the first time in my life. It definitely shows that the hard work is paying off and I’m extremely happy with my progress and how I’m playing right now.

“I’m happy to be in my first semi-final since the injury. Hopefully it won’t be my last and hopefully there’s much more to come here.”

Zverev has been searching for his best level since returning to competitive action after seven months at the United Cup. The former World No. 2 had won just two tour-level matches this season prior to this week, but he has dropped only one set in his opening three rounds against Jiri Lehecka, Christopher O’Connell and Sonego in Dubai.

Although both Zverev and Sonego showcased high-quality volleying throughout their one-hour, 52-minute encounter, the German 19-time ATP Tour titlist was more consistent from the baseline. He hit just eight unforced errors to Sonego’s 16.

Zverev faced six break points — three in his first service game of the match three serving for victory in the final game — but saved all of them to stay perfect on serve. He was pleased with the way he had handled the situation at 5-4, 0/40 in the second set as Sonego threatened a late comeback at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium.

“In those moments, you’ve got to go back to the basics,” said Zverev. “You’ve got to play each point by itself, you’ve got to remember what you can control. That is always your serve, that’s the only shot in tennis you can control purely by yourself. It obviously helps that I hit five first-serves in a row and then the match was over.”

With Thursday’s win, Zverev advanced to his maiden semi-final in Dubai on his second appearance at the event. His opponent in the final four will be defending champion Andrey Rublev or World No. 33 Botic van de Zandschulp.

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