Alexander Zverev missed the final in Dubai. The form curve of the Olympic champion is still pointing upwards.
Alexander Zverev congratulated his buddy Andrey Rublev with a big hug and then, disappointed, trudged from Center Court in Dubai to great applause. The Olympic champion missed his first final after his serious injury. The 25-year-old lost to the defending champion from Russia 3: 6, 6: 7 (9:11) on Friday and was unable to take the chance to reach the 31st final of his career.
Nevertheless, Zverev can point to visible progress.
“He played really well. It was a super intense tie-break and I was expecting to go into the third set,” said Rublev after a top-class match, especially in the second set. Both players have known each other for many years. “He was always like a big brother to me,” Rublev said.
This time it wasn’t enough for Zverev, who lost to Rublev for the first time in the professional field after a previously perfect record with 5-0 wins and 11-0 sets. The sixth in the world rankings now meets his compatriot Daniil Medvedev in the final on Saturday. The 2021 US Open champion ended the winning streak of world number one Novak Djokovic from Serbia with a 6: 4, 6: 4.
Zverev’s self-confidence had grown noticeably over the course of the tournament. “After such an injury, I’m happy where I’m at now,” he said after winning several matches in a row for the first time since the momentous misstep at the French Open 2022: “I’m slowly coming back and playing sensible stuff this week Tennis.”
Zverev made too many avoidable mistakes against Rublev, especially in the first set, and had problems after his second serve. He improved in the second round and fought to equalize the set in a long tie-break. Zverev fended off five match balls with courageous tennis, but was no longer able to secure his chance of winning his 20th title.
For Djokovic, the defeat against Medvedev meant the first of 2023.
The 35-year-old has been unbeaten since winning the ATP Finals in November. This year Djokovic already won the ATP tournament in Adelaide before securing his tenth triumph at the Australian Open. With his 22nd Grand Slam title, he had drawn level with his Spanish rival Rafael Nadal in the leaderboard.