Zverev, Rublev savour home comforts in wins

Zverev, Rublev savour home comforts in wins

COLOGNE (Germany) • Top seed Alexander Zverev bagged his first ATP crown of the year after beating Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-3 to lift the bett1Hulks Indoor title in Cologne yesterday.

The German, who lost the US Open final last month and exited the French Open in the fourth round, needed only 80 minutes to get the better of the 20-year-old Canadian thanks to a dominant service performance.

Zverev won 80 per cent of his first service points and an overwhelming 88 per cent on his second serve, while he also converted four of 10 break points to hand Auger-Aliassime – who is still searching for his first title – a sixth defeat in a final.

“I had a very tough final in New York and the next final I played here, I wanted to come out and obviously play my best tennis,” the 23-year-old said.

“Felix, you’re an unbelievable player. I know it doesn’t mean much right now, but I’m sure you’re not only going to win one title, you’re going to win multiple titles in your career, bigger titles than this.”

Victory gave Zverev his 12th ATP title and his third on home soil after he won the Munich Open in 2017 and 2018.

He has already qualified for the season-ending ATP Finals in London next month but will remain in Cologne as the top seed at the bett1Hulks Championships, which start today.

Auger-Aliassime, who lost his first ATP final in February last year at the Rio Open, said: “I just played bad from start to finish.”

There was another win for a home favourite yesterday, when Russian Andrey Rublev took the honours at the St Petersburg final for his fourth title of the year.

The 22-year-old defeated Borna Coric 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 as the Croatian finished runner-up here for a second straight year.

Rublev now has 34 ATP Tour match wins this season, behind only world No. 1 Novak Djokovic (37) – the only other man with four titles this term.