In-form Zverev cruises into US Open 3rd round; Barty sees off Danish teen

New York, Sep 2 (EFE).- German world No. 4 Alexander Zverev produced yet another stellar performance during the summer hard-court season, routing Albert Ramos Viñolas 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 on Thursday afternoon to book his place in the third round of the US Open.

The Tokyo Olympics men’s singles gold medalist and Cincinnati Masters champion showed no signs of cooling off against the veteran Spaniard, once again dominating play on the strength of his big first serve.

Zverev’s biggest weapon was extremely reliable and effective on Thursday, with the German putting a very high 81 percent of his first serves in play and winning all but three of those points (40 of 43).

Including his first-round victory on Tuesday over American Sam Querrey, the 2020 US Open runner-up has put 74 percent of his first serves in play, won 91 percent of his first-serve points and not faced a single break point.

But Zverev’s strong serving has overshadowed his equally outstanding return game thus far in New York.

After securing four service breaks in three sets against the big-serving Querrey, he won more than half (52 percent) of the points on Ramos-Viñolas’ serve and broke his opponent on seven occasions.

Zverev was utterly dominant in grabbing a 6-1, 6-0, 3-0, although Ramos Viñolas managed to string together three straight service holds at the end of the match to make the score a bit more respectable.

“My serve is kind of the key to my game,” Zverev said afterward. “When it’s working I’m playing great. When it’s not, I’m losing matches like I did at Wimbledon. It’s no secret that my serve is probably the most important shot in my game, and I’m happy with how it’s working. The matches are not going to get easier and I will need that to be my weapon.”

Next up for Zverev in the third round will be the winner of the match between American Jack Sock and Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik.

Zverev is on a potential collision course in the semifinals with Serbian world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is bidding to become the first men’s player in more than 50 years to win all four major titles (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open) in the same calendar year.

Djokovic had been trying to win the so-called Golden Slam, but he was thwarted by Zverev in the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics.

Like Zverev, Australian world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty also came into the US Open full of confidence after winning her maiden Wimbledon title and the Cincinnati event.

But she has not yet found her highest level in New York and struggled for her second straight match, having to dig deep in the second set on Thursday before overcoming Danish 18-year-old Clara Tauson 6-1, 7-5.

The Australian lost just three points on serve en route to a routine first-set victory, but she struggled at times from the baseline in the second set and had her serve broken twice, including when serving for the match at 5-4.

Barty, who as usual effectively used her slice backhand to neutralize her opponent’s power and win big points, broke serve in the 11th game and then clinched the match by holding serve one final time after fending off a break point.

“Today was tricky, I think, to navigate through that second set and just trust myself and hit out,” Barty said in the post-match press conference. “Just refocusing, and narrowing my focus, and remembering what I needed to do to win the match as opposed to getting flat and passive, where I was letting her control a little bit too much.”

The world No. 1, who missed last year’s US Open amid the coronavirus crisis and has never reached the quarterfinals of this major tournament in five previous attempts, will need to lift her level of play quickly.

In the third round, Barty will take on the winner of the match between big-hitting American Shelby Rogers and Romania’s Sorana Cirstea. EFE


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