Alexander Zverev zipped into the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-finals with an assured victory over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.
The German, seeded seventh in Dubai this week, looked relaxed in the Thursday afternoon sun on Centre Court, as he saw off World No.67 Sonego 7-5, 6-4 to set up an exciting clash with second seed and defending champion Andrey Rublev.
Sonego, who beat fourth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets in round two, burst out of the blocks racing to a 0-40 score on Zverev’s service game.
However, Olympic gold medallist Zverev, who is still making his way back after tearing ankle ligaments at last year’s French Open, battled back and the opening exchanges went with serve before Zverev assumed control.
Utilising his height, range and reach, he dealt well with Sonego’s serve to grab a decisive break in game 11, before holding to take the set.
Set two played out in similar fashion, with Zverev breaking in game five to edge into a 3-2 lead.
Sonego, a three-time winner on the ATP Tour, was not going down without a fight though and, with Zverev serving for the match, the Italian raced to a 0-40 lead.
Yet it was not quite enough as World No.16 Zverev clawed his way back, winning five straight points, including an ace on the final point, to book his spot in the final four.
“It’s been a difficult period over the past nine months, not playing tennis for such a long period in my life, but today shows the hard work is paying off and I’m pretty happy with what the progress is and how I’m playing,” said Zverev.
“I’m happy to be in my first semi-final since June, hopefully it won’t be my last.”
The 2018 and 2021 ATP Tour Finals champion will now play Dubai’s defending champion Rublev, who is seeded No.2 here this week.
Rublev wrapped up a 6-3 7-6 (3) win over Dutchman Botic Van De Zandschulp on Thursday.
Friday’s semi-final promises to be an intriguing encounter between two players born exactly six months apart. Zverev, the elder of the two 25-year-olds has won all of their previous five meetings.
“I’ve never beaten him on the ATP Tour so hopefully I can go out there and put on good fight,” said Rublev of semi-final opponent Zverev.
“I just need to play good, aggressive tennis and we’ll see what happens. He was winning so many great titles before he got injured. He’s a great player, he knows how to play against me, but I know how to play against him so it will be about little details.”
With doubles dominating Court One on Thursday, third-seeded pair Lloyd Glasspool, from the UK, and partner Harri Heliovaara of Finland, made short work of their quarterfinal against Indian duo Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni.
Glasspool and Heliovaara, already title winners this year following victory in Adelaide in January, needed just 58 minutes to secure their place in the semi-finals, claiming a convincing 6-2, 6-2 victory.
They will face top-seeded pair Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic.
In the second quarterfinal of the day, Maxime Cressy (USA) and Fabrice Martin (France) required just 1hr 8 mins to secure their place in the semi-finals with a 6-4 6-3 triumph over Dutch duo Robin Hasse and Matwe Middlekoop.
Boosted by their victory over fourth seeds Hugo Nys and Jan Zielinski, Cressy and Martin produced a solid performance to earn a Friday night showdown with Belgian pair Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen.