Zverev in the Vienna final surprisingly against “Showman” Tiafoe

The final of the traditional tennis civic hall tournament in Vienna has its surprise man: After Alexander Zverev, who moved into his first Vienna final on Saturday in an impressive manner, US qualifier Frances Tiafoe created the sensation. Jannik Sinner from South Tyrol was close to a clear victory, but the US qualifier turned the game around with the strong support of 8,700 fans to a 3: 6.7: 5.6: 2 success.

Previously, the number two seeded German had stopped the run of Spain’s only 18-year-old giant talent Alcaraz with a smooth 6: 3.6: 3 in just 68 minutes. The Olympic champion is the favorite in the final for a 275,000-euro check against Tiafoe, leading 5-1 in head-to-head with the American.

“I knew I had to take the time away from him. He’s someone who plays very aggressively and who can play extremely quickly with the forehand and I have to take that away, ”Zverev told ServusTV shortly after the match. He managed to do that well both in his service games and in aggressive games as a hit against Alcaraz.

Alcaraz could have chosen himself as the youngest finalist in Vienna at all or in the history of the ATP 500 tournament series, but he was far from that on Saturday. Zverev acted too dominantly, who, like a few months ago in Acapulco, was still a size too big for the 18-year-old. Breaks to 4: 3 and 6: 3 in the first and 4: 2 in the second set quickly sealed the one-way street on which this match was.

For Zverev, Sunday is about his fifth title this year after Acapulco, Madrid, the Olympic Games and Cincinnati. The increase on Saturday compared to the previous Vienna week was striking. “That was the best match I played this week. I haven’t played so well all week. I had extreme problems from the baseline, today I warmed up for an hour and a half and finally found my rhythm. I hope it stays that way for tomorrow, ”said Zverev.

Zverev presents itself very relaxed in Vienna not only thanks to its new girlfriend, the 32-year-old actress Sophia Thomalla. He justified this with the atmosphere in the town hall “after” Corona. “I just enjoy playing in a full stadium again after the Corona period, something that I missed a lot. I need the energy and I’m also impulsive on the pitch. ”8,700 fans created a really great atmosphere.

You could watch Zverev in the warm-up room with a new program that looks a little different than usual. “This is neuroathletics training. I’ve been doing that since this year. I am someone who is very strong even though I don’t look like that. But this training helps me to use it all and bring it to the field. It helps me adjust my body the way I need it on the tennis court, ”said the 24-year-old fourth in the world rankings. It has a lot to do with eye training and physical nerve training, he added.

While still on the pitch, he flirted with the audience when asked about preparing for the final. “I’m going to have a schnitzel tonight … with french fries, of course. Sophia tells me all the time, how can you eat so much junk all the time and still be so thin? Yes, that’s why I move around the square 18 hours a day, but the schnitzel has to be today. “

Whether schnitzel or burger: the diet the night before will not play a role in the endgame. Everything had already expected a final of two German-speaking players, but then Tiafoe brought the almost full town hall to a boil.

The conqueror of tournament favorite Stefanos Tsitsipas and then Diego Schwartzman was clearly behind against Sinner: 3: 6.2: 5 and hardly anyone believed in the outsider. The same result as Zverev (6: 3.6: 3) was ready for Sinner, but thanks to his way of captivating the audience, “Showman” Tiafoe equalized a 2: 5 and the world number 49. saved himself with a 7: 5 in the third set.

And in this one, too, he had not yet used his powder. The cool Sinner was suddenly no longer the boss on the pitch against the hot-blooded Tiafoe. Tiafoe let all Corona rules be forgotten, hugged the audience or clapped them over and over again. Breaks to 2: 1 and 5: 2 and one of the most emotional matches of the past few years in the town hall brought Tiafoe the first victory in the third duel with Sinner. For Sinner the consolation was that he will move into the top ten for the first time on Monday.

The audience was the key to Tiafoe’s victory, as he admitted when asked by APA: “I would have lost really high if nobody had been there. It’s just been a lot more fun since the fans came back. I just want to put on a show, ”Tiafoe admitted. When he had the impression that his week was about to end, he wanted to do something for the fans, to hug them. “And you never know, you can get into your opponent’s head like that,” he said with a smile.

Sinner was less enthusiastic about the Tiafoes show and complained. “Today it was a little too much from him, that wasn’t very respectful,” the South Tyrolean complained. “The audience is there for a reason. I don’t feel bad for that, ”was the American’s reply. “I did everything I could to cross the finish line today.”

His final opponent Zverev is a great player. “I’ve known him since we were ten or eleven. I have to get the most out of myself, even when I’m extremely tired. “