Alexander Zverev, Washington 2018

Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alex de Minaur and Andrey Rublev. They’re part of the NextGen, they made big waves on the ATP tour recently and they all reached the semifinals of the Citi Open in Washington. It is the first time since 1995 in Buenos Aires (Carlos Moya, Felix Mantilla, Alex Corretja, Jiri Novak) that 4 under 21 players reach the semifinals of an ATP tournament.

“I’m the old guy this week,” Zverev said. “Being the oldest semi-finalist this week shows that our Next Gen players are playing absolutely amazing tennis and they’re all on the come up and we could all do well in big tournaments. It’s great to see and hopefully this will not be the last time, but in the future this will happen more often.”

In the first semifinal, top seed Zverev dispatched Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2 6-4. It was the first meeting between the two players (Tsitsipas took his revenge a week later in Toronto). With that victory Zverev was the first to 40 wins this season (for 11 defeats).
In the quarterfinals, Zverev had beaten Nishikori 3-6 6-1 6-4 in a match that was delayed by rain at 3-2 in the third for more than two hours. Tsitsipas, who had saved two match points in his second round win over Jared Donaldson had cruised to a 6-3 6-4 victory over David Goffin to advance to the semifinals.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (2)

In the second semifinal, Alex de Minaur overcame Andrey Rublev 5-7 7-6 6-4 after saving 4 match points in the second set tiebreak. Hewitt’s protege advanced to his second final of the year (he lost to Daniil Medvedev in Sydney in January).
Rublev was playing his second match of the day, having beaten Denis Kudla a few hours earlier due to rain delays, while the Australian benefited from Murray’s withdrawal to advance to the semifinals.

Alex de Minaur - Prayer

Alex de Minaur vs Andrey Rublev handshake and hug

Andrey Rublev

De Minaur was no match for Zverev, as the defending champion retained his title with a 6-2 6-4 victory over the Australian. The German lifts his third trophy of 2018 after Munich and Madrid.

“It feels great. It shows mental strength as well, and shows a little bit of maturity. I had a great tournament. I played a lot of great players. Losing only one set, it was a fantastic week for me.”

A few words about 4 other NextGen stars who took part to the tournament.
Denis Shapovalov lost to Nishikori in straight sets in the third round after a hard-fought victory over Daniil Medvedev.

Denis Shapovalov

Daniil Medvedev and Denis Shapovalov

Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung lost to de Minaur in the third round after wins over BenoƮt Paire and Marcos Baghdatis.

Hyeon Chung

Frances Tiafoe was ousted by David Goffin 6-0 6-3 in the third round.

Kudla and Tiafoe

Photo credit: JC

Extract from The Rivals by Johnette Howard:

“Evert and Navratilova played the first of their eighty career matches in Akron, Ohio, to no fanfare. It was March 22, 1973, and Navratilova – who was merely hoping to make Evert remember her name – lost the first-round encounter 7-6 6-3 before a few hundred people.

It wasn’t until two years later in their sixth match, a 1975 quarterfinal in Washington DC, that Navratilova beat Evert for the first time. Navratilova was so thrilled, she didn’t sleep at all that night.

It wasn’t until 1976 and their seventeenth meeting – after Navratilova had dropped weight and improved her game – that Evert, by now Navratilova’s friend and sometime doubles partner, publicly betrayed her first scintilla of concern. Navratilova had just beaten her in Houston for the first time ever in a final.

“If she keeps this up, she could be pretty good.” Chris Evert