In Madrid 2018, world no. 3 and the 2nd seed Alexander Zverev advanced into his fourth Masters 1000 final in the last 12 months, toppling Denis Shapovalov 6-4, 6-1 in swift 57 minutes. It was their third match and the third win for Zverev who had the upper hand all the time in the youngster semi-final at this Masters 1000 event that started in 2002.
The German was the dominant figure in his games, dropping nine points behind the initial shot and never facing a break point to mount all the pressure on the other side of the court. On the other hand, he grabbed almost half of the return points, seizing all four break opportunities to seal the deal in style and set the final clash against Dominic Thiem.
Both players stayed below ten winners from the court and it was Zverev who tamed his mistakes more efficiently, resting on 13 unforced while Shapovalov counted to 21, unable to impose his strokes or move the opponent from the comfort zone.
Denis played well to reach the semi-final after heading to Madrid with no wins in the ATP tournaments on clay, finding the rhythm on the fast surface in Caja Magica but having nothing left in the tank for Alexander Zverev who had a massive advantage in the shortest rallies up to four strokes.
The booming serves let the young German towards the victory, hitting a service winner in more than half of the points and challenging Denis to repeat that if he wanted to stay in contention.
The youngest Masters 1000 semi-finalist on clay since Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet held at love in the opening game and stayed in touch at the beginning of the encounter, with only two points for the returners in the first four games that they completed in four minutes.
Shapovalov held after a deuce in game five to remain in front, delivering another fine hold at 3-3 to complete the first seven games in 21 minutes! Zverev closed the eighth game with another powerful serve and drew first blood a few minutes later after breaking Shapovalov at 30, securing the opener with a forehand winner in the tenth game for a 6-4 after 34 minutes.
With momentum on his side, the German grabbed a break at the beginning of the second set following a forced error from the Canadian, cementing the advantage with four service winners to forge a set and a break lead. A lefthander sprayed a backhand error in the third game to suffer a break at love, allowing Alexander to move 4-0 in front and propelling the German over the finish line with another break at love at 5-1.
Since Rome 2017, Alexander Zverev was the finalist in four out of nine Masters 1000 events, more than any other player on the Tour, facing Dominic Thiem in the quest for the third crown at that level.