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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, August 1, 2021

 
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Alexander Zverev crushed Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-1 in the Tokyo Olympics final to make history as the first German man to capture the singles gold medal.

Photo credit: Getty

Extensive calculation wasn’t part of Alexander Zverev’s pre-match preparation.

An explosive Zverev played dynamic number cruncher today.

More: Carreno Busta Stuns Djokovic for Bronze Medal

Dictating play with electric drives, Zverev roared through seven straight games crushing Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-1 in the Tokyo Olympics final to make history as the first German man to capture the Olympic singles gold medal.




“It’s incredible; this is the biggest tournament you can win in any sport doesn’t matter what anybody else says doesn’t matter what some of the tennis players say,” Zverev told Olympic Channel’s Trenni Kusnierek. “I can’t believe it. I’m an Olympic gold medalist.

“This is not even something you can dream about. It’s like so far away. It’s the first time in my life I don’t know what to say in an interview—this is how much it means.”

A dominant Zverev showed strength down the stretch at closing time in his run to gold. Zverev won 10 of the last 11 games in his stunning 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 semifinal upset of Novak Djokovic snapping the world No. 1’s 22-match winning streak and shattering his Golden Grand Slam dreams.

In today’s final, Zverev stormed through eight of the last nine games joining Steffi Graf, who completed the Golden Grand Slam at the 1988 Seoul Games, as the second German to claim the singles gold. It is German's first tenns gold medal since Boris Becker partnered Michael Stich to the doubles gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Tennis Express

All this from a man who blew a two-set lead in the US Open final last September suffering an agonizing five-set loss to Dominic Thiem in the first Flushing Meadows men’s final decided in a fifth-set tiebreaker. In that excruciating defeat, Zverev hit 15 aces against 15 double faults, including two crucial double faults in the tie breaker.

Assertive from the opening point today, Zverev clubbed his second serve with ambition, beat Khachanov to the ball, crunched shots with conviction and beat the self-belief out of the 6’6” Russian, who was bidding to become his nation’s first men’s gold-medal champion since Yevgeny Kafelnikov struck gold in the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

An oppressive Zverev gave Khachanov little room to breath handing the Russian his first loss in five career finals.




The pair speak the same language, but Zverev almost always delivered the final word in rallies.

The fourth-seeded Zverev zapped six aces against no double faults, won 26 of 31 first-serve points and faced just one break point in a one hour, 19 thrashing that left Khachanov so frustrated he completely obliterated his Wilson Blade racquet in disgust leaving a mangled mess near his court-side seat.

Playing for a cause greater than himself empowered Zverev to the biggest of his 16 career championships.

"Because this tournament is not about yourself; I didn’t walk on court for one second for me," Zverev said. "I walked on court for everybody back at home, everybody here at the village, the whole country of Germany. I never gave up and never lost the spirit."



Playing his first final since he defeated Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Djokovic to capture the 2018 Paris Masters, Khachanov confronted trouble in his second service game. Zverev followed a forehand down the line forward snapping off a smash to break for 2-1.

Firing his forehand with ambition, Zverev confirmed the break at 15. A biting 133 mph body serve erased he first break point Zverev faced as he dodged danger holding for 4-2.

The 12th seed saved a set point in the ninth game, but Zverev attacked behind a forehand drawing an errant pass for a second set point. Khachanov pushed a volley wide as the German snatched a one-set lead. Serving with sharper direction than his opponent, Zverev won 12 of 15 first-serve points in the 43-minute opening set.

Attacking the Russian’s forehand wing, which is predicated on an elaborate takeback, Zverev pressured serve again. When Khachanov flattened a forehand down the line into net, Zverev had his second straight break for a 2-0 second-set advantage.

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The German’s superior movement and wide wingspan haunted Khachanov. The Russian ripped a forehand down the line, but Zverev caught up to it easily pumping a crosscourt reply for another break point in the fourth game. Khachanov saved it only to face another stress test. Changing direction down the line effectively, Zverev broke again for 4-0 running through six straight points to stretch his lead to 5-0.

Swooping forward for a sweeping forehand swing volley to end it in one hour, 19 minutes, Zverev dropped to his knees absorbing the biggest title of his career.

It's been a tumultuous year for the 24-year-old Zverev, who became a first-time father in March when his ex-girlfriend, model Brenda Patea, gave birth to a baby daughter. Patea has said she plans to raise the child alone. Another ex-girlfriend, Olga Sharypova, accused Zverev of several instances of physical abuse during their relationship—Zverev denies the allegations. Following his run to the US Open final, Zverev split with coach David Ferrer and later parted company with physio Jez Green.

Moments after his golden moment, Zverev dedicated the medal to his family and supporters.

"[It's] for everybody back at home, for my father, for my brother, for my mother, for my whole family," Zverev said.  "Everybody also supporting me, my nephew, my daughter, everyone. This is for everybody back at home."

 

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