Zverev beats Auger-Aliassime in Cologne to end title wait

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COLOGNE, Germany — Alexander Zverev ended his 17-month wait for a title by drawing on the pain of his U.S. Open final defeat to beat Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-3 and win the Cologne Indoors on Sunday.

Zverev has had a breakthrough year in Grand Slam tournaments with his first semifinal at the Australian Open in January and first final at the U.S. Open last month, when he lost to Dominic Thiem. Zverev has said he thinks almost constantly about that final, and he credited it with raising his game in Cologne.

“I had a very tough final in New York and, the next final I played here, I wanted to come out and play my best tennis,” he said.

The German hadn’t played the final of any regular ATP Tour events in 2020 until Sunday. Zverev’s previous title was at the clay-court Geneva Open in May 2019 and he is now 12-8 in career finals.

Zverev broke Auger-Aliassime’s serve in the first game of the match to establish early control. Zverev broke in the second at 3-2 and saved two break points in his next service game to hold off a fightback from the Canadian.

Auger-Aliassime is still waiting for his first career title after losing six finals in two seasons, all of them in straight sets. All three of the finals that the 20-year-old Canadian has played this year have been on indoor hard courts.

Zverev said he and Auger-Aliassime had bonded while practicing together in Monaco during the coronavirus pandemic, and he predicted a bright future for the Canadian. “You’re going to be lifting a winner’s trophy very, very soon,” Zverev said.

The Cologne Indoors is the first of two new back-to-back tournaments the city is hosting after the ATP calendar was modified due to the pandemic.

The second Cologne tournament was already holding qualification matches before Sunday’s final in the first tournament took place. It will feature Zverev and U.S. Open quarterfinalist Denis Shapovalov, while former top-ranked player Andy Murray has withdrawn citing tendonitis.

Giron cruises in 3rd set, beats Rybakov at Dallas Open

2023 Australian Open - Day 1
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DALLAS – Marcos Giron advanced to the second round of the Dallas Open with a 6-4, 6-7 (1), 6-1 victory over Alex Rybakov on Tuesday.

The seventh-seeded Giron, who reached the semifinals of the inaugural event a year ago, responded quickly after failing to close out the second set, winning the first five games of the deciding set.

Rybakov broke his fellow American when Giron was serving for the match in the second set. Then Rybakov won the first six points of the second-set tiebreaker.

“I’m really happy with how I was able to reset in the third and just get back to the game plan from the beginning and elevate,” Giron said. “He played well and served well and kind of hung in there.”

Eighth-seeded Adrian Mannarino of France won the final five points of a first-set tiebreaker and the last four games of the second to beat American Steve Johnson 7-6 (6), 6-2.

J.J. Wolf, the No. 6 seed, had little trouble in a 6-3, 6-3 victory over fellow American Brandon Holt.

John Isner, the fifth seed and unofficial tournament host in his hometown event, played later Tuesday. Like Giron, Isner lost in the semifinals last year.

Sock wins at Dallas Open, set to face top-seeded Fritz

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DALLAS – Wild-card entry Jack Sock opened with a 7-6 (2), 4-6, 6-4 victory over Ilya Ivashka at the Dallas Open, setting up a second-round meeting with top-seeded fellow American Taylor Fritz.

Sock broke Ivashka’s serve in the final game to win the match. Ivashka fell behind 2-0 to start the final set but broke Sock to get back on serve.

Down a break early in the second set, Ivashka rallied to force the deciding set after Sock cruised in the first-set tiebreaker.

The eighth-ranked Fritz is back for the second Dallas Open after losing in the semifinals as the top seed in the inaugural edition of the indoor hard-court event last year. Defending champion Reilly Opelka isn’t in the field.