The top two seeds of the Western & Southern Open men’s singles draw were eliminated in Saturday’s semifinals as Alexander Zverev and Andrey Rublev moved on to the championship match.
Rublev battled back after losing the first set to defeat top seed Daniil Medvedev 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. Medvedev, the 2019 champion, had not lost a set prior to Saturday’s semifinal.
By winning the all-Russian semifinal, the 23-year-old Rublev has reached his first Western & Southern Open final. Rublev’s win over the No. 2 ranked Medvedev is his second victory over a top three ranked opponent in Cincinnati, having also defeated No. 3 Roger Federer in 2019. He became the first No. 4 seed since Rafael Nadal in 2013 to reach the finals, with the last two No. 4 seeds in the finals (Nadal, 2013 and Andy Murray, 2011) claiming the title.
“To beat Daniil, to only show a great game is not enough,” Rublev said. “You need to be physically ready because you will have to run a lot and you have to play each point in a long rally. There will be almost no free points. You have to be also mentally strong. So, to beat Daniil, you have to do these three things really well. It's nice I did well today, both game-wise, physical-wise, and mental-wise, in which some matches I can be mentally and physically not good. But because I'm showing great shots, it's enough to win...Here you need to show all three things. I'm happy that I showed them today.”
Zverev defeated No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (4), becoming the fourth player since 2000 to win a final set tie-break in the semifinals (Novak Djokovic 2020, Roger Federer 2007, Andre Agassi 2004, Tim Henman 2000). Tsitsipas jumped out to a 4-2 lead in the third set after splitting the first two sets, eventually forcing a final set tie-break. Zverev, however, came out on top and marched his way to his first Western & Southern Open finals appearance.
The Tokyo gold medalist, Zverev seeks to become the first player to win the Olympics and the Western & Southern Open in the same year since Andre Agassi in 1996. He also looks to be the first German player to claim the title since Boris Becker in 1985.
“(Rublev) is playing the tennis of his life,” Zverev said. “It's going to be of course a tough one but also a fun one. I have known Andrey since we were 11 years old. We have been pretty much best friends for a long period of time. It's great to see how long of a way we came and that we are playing the biggest matches and competing for the biggest titles together.”
Americans Steve Johnson and Austin Krajicek became the first wild card doubles team to advance to the finals since 2002, knocking out two-time Western & Southern Open finalists and No. 3 seed Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the tiebreaker game. The American duo faces No. 2 seed Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos in Sunday’s final on the Grandstand at 12 p.m.
The men’s singles finals will begin not before 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
Recap presented by The Recovery Room