March 22, 2021
Alexander Zverev won the battle of the tennis rock stars and fell to the floor with sheer relief after a thrilling final in Acapulco.
The large crowd couldn’t get enough of Zverev and fellow poster-boy Stefanos Tsitsipas as they conjured an epic clash in Mexico.
Both men were drenched in sweat as they duked it out for the trophy and gave their all.
Zverev’s big-match nerve has sometimes been questioned but he silenced his critics with a wonderful display when it mattered.
Meanwhile British brothers Neal and Ken Skupski took the doubles title against the odds.
Their reunion left a trail of favourites in their wake and augers well for Wimbledon 2021.
But Wimbledon tennis fans will be just as pleased to see one of the new superstars of our sport fulfilling his potential.
Zverev staged an incredible first-set comeback and then produced a series of stunning second-set winners to close out 6-4, 7-6 (7-3).
The Greek had won the previous five encounters and led 4-1 in the opening set. Sascha already looked down and out as he fought to fend off more break points in the very next game.
But when Tsitsipas couldn’t press home his advantage, the German summoned a remarkable spirit to bounce back in style.
In the final analysis, this became a tale of two backhands.
Stefanos misfired with his in the breaker. But Zverev came up with one breath-taking winner after another on his backhand side.
And Tsitsipas looked surprised by the searing accuracy of the passes that left him so exposed.
Afterwards he expressed some of that same emotion. ‘What can I say, congratulations to Sascha. He played an unbelievable match today.’
Zverev replied: ‘I hope we’re going to play a lot of finals together.’
And we think some of those finals could well take place on the famous Centre Court at Wimbledon some time in the future.
Sascha added: ‘Stefanos, don’t worry. You will win much bigger titles than this one.’
Not that Zverev was in any mood to diminish the size of his achievement. He explained: ‘It’s amazing. I’m really happy to win the trophy and it means a lot to me.’
It was Sascha’s first title of the season and his fourteenth in all. Tsitsipas now leads their head-to-head 5-2 but Zverev insists he wasn’t at his best during previous showdowns.
He said: ‘In 2019 and 2020 I really wasn’t myself in a way but this was me.’
Now the makings of an enduring and fascinating rivalry is simmering nicely. Watch it grow into something special!
Meanwhile Ken and Neal Skupski created a moving family story when they beat favourites Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 to clinch the doubles title at the same venue.
The Liverpool boys had split up when Neal went to try his luck in a partnership with Jamie Murray.
Back together, the Skupskis beat Jamie and his partner Bruno Soares on their way to glory in Mexico.
They also defeated Australian Open finalists and former Melbourne champions Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram in the same tournament.
It was a scorching story not lost on Ken. He said: ‘I’d like to thank Neal, actually. It’s been a long road since we sort of broke up and got back together. This is a magic moment for both if us.’
Wimbledon 2021 fans will be spoilt for choice when it comes to home interest in the doubles.
Jamie Murray, Joe Salisbury and the Skupski brothers mean that Britain has at least three shots at glory right there.
And two of the biggest attractions in the game, Zverev and Tsitsipas are already tapping into some sparkling form as we build towards the big one.
We can’t wait for Wimbledon now. How about you?