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Thursday February 25th, 2021 7:54PM

Medvedev beats Zverev to win his 1st Paris Masters final

By The Associated Press
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Daniil Medvedev won the Paris Masters for the first time by beating Alexander Zverev 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 Sunday for his eighth career title and third at a Masters event.

The third-seeded Russian secured just his second win against the fourth-seeded Zverev in seven matches, and his previous victory against the imposing German was also in a Masters final last year in Shanghai.

“I think it’s not easy for guys to play against me when I play like this,” Medvedev said. “Of course it’s tough to compare with the Shanghai final, where I was on top of him all of the match. Here it was a really tight match where both could be the winners.”

It was Medvedev's first final and title of the year, while Zverev was playing in his third straight final after winning back-to-back tournaments in Cologne, Germany.

The battle between first-time finalists here and the last two U.S. Open runners-up went with serve — and with no break points — until Zverev broke Medvedev in the 12th game to take the opening set.

When Medvedev hit a forehand long on that point, Zverev let out a loud roar that pierced the silence at a Bercy Arena left empty by the coronavirus pandemic.

“After the first set I didn’t know actually what to do, because I had zero break points,” Medvedev said. “I didn’t feel good returning his serve.”

Medvedev's relentless accuracy from the baseline induced a loose shot from Zverev in the ninth game of the second set when he hit long from the back of the court. Medvedev’s pinpoint returning is among the best on the ATP Tour, and that chipped away at Zverev's confidence as he won only 57% of points on first serve compared to 75% for Medvedev.

“I was serving really good, and first shot after the second serve was also good many times,” Medvedev said.

Medvedev held to love and clinched the second set with his 13th ace, then took control when Zverev padded a weak forehand into the net and was broken to love. After Zverev missed four break-point chances in the next game, he was punished when Medvedev broke him for a 3-0 lead.

“At the end of the second set I was tired. I was dead. The third set was always going to be very difficult for me,” Zverev said. “Once you get a little bit tired against him, he wears you down. He wears you down even more. He makes you run, he makes you move. He’s very composed."

Medvedev clinched the victory on his second match point when Zverev double-faulted for the third time in the match.

They could meet again at the season-ending ATP Finals in London from Nov. 15-22.

“We will see how it goes with London. I’m happy with my tennis,” Zverev said. “I just need to maybe recover a little bit physically.”

Last year in London, Medvedev led Rafael Nadal 5-1 in the final set with the Russian having a match point. But a third-set meltdown ended in a tormenting defeat which taught him a lot.

“I knew I had to leave it behind. Just learn from it and learn how, if you’re up 5-1 and you lose even your serve on 5-2, you should not go crazy because you are still up,” the 24-year-old Medvedev said. “I have been working on my mental strength for a long time. I think I have done a lot of progress, because even if you see me still doing meltdowns, it’s nothing compared to what I was when I was a junior.”

___

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Tennis, AP Sports - Men's Tennis
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