World No. 5 Alexander Zverev says the mentality he had against Novak Djokovic at the Tokyo Olympics helped him edge out Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Cincinnati Masters. Zverev, seeded at No. 3, edged out second-seeded Tsitsipas in a thriller 6-4 4-6 7-6 (4) to reach the Cincinnati final.
Zverev down by a set and break in the Tokyo Olympics against Djokovic but he created a stunning comeback. The German then delivered a strong performance in the final against Karen Khachanov to win his maiden gold medal.
"After the first break [to get to 2-4] I thought I had a chance and I felt he wasn’t serving bombs and that I was in the rallies,” Zverev said on court after the win, per the ATP website. “It was a little bit of the mentality that I had against Novak at the Olympics”.
Zverev wanted to send a message to Tsitsipas
Zverev, who will be aiming to win his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open, didn't want to give Tsitsipas momentum ahead of the last Grand Slam of the season. “It’s a great rivalry, there is a lot of fire and emotion there,” Zverev said later on Tennis Channel.
“And before the US Open we didn’t want to give each other anything, which is what the match showed. It was a great battle and the last matches we have played have been like that”. After returning from disappering in the tunnel with his towel, Zverev started playing much better and won a tight third set.
“I didn’t feel well," Zverev admitted. "In the middle of the second set I felt low energy and my stomach wasn’t great. I broke him at 4-2 in the third and went outside the court and did my thing.
I started to feel better, the doctor came out and gave me a little medicine and my stomach started to calm down a little. The energy came back but I think that was also adrenaline”.