ATP Tour

Zverev downs Nishikori to reach Washington final

Alexander Zverev (Gallo Images)
Alexander Zverev (Gallo Images)

Washington - Germany's Alexander Zverev dominated Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4 Saturday in a showdown of top-10 rivals to reach the ATP and WTA Citi Open final against South Africa's Kevin Anderson.

Zverev, ranked a career-best eighth this week, dropped only seven points on his serve and never faced a break-point in the 63-minute affair, extending ninth-ranked Nishikori's ATP title drought to 30 events over 18 months.

The 20-year-old from Hamburg will try for his fifth career title and fourth of the year Sunday on the Washington hardcourts against 45th-ranked Anderson, who ousted 19th-ranked American Jack Sock 6-3, 6-4.

Zverev dominated from the start, winning the first 10 points and 12 of the first 13, Nishikori netting a backhand to surrender a decisive break at love in the second game. Both men held out from there, Zverev taking the first set in 28 minutes.

The 20-year-old German hit a forehand winner to break for a 2-1 lead in the second set and held to the finish, claiming victory when Nishikori netted a forehand.

Zverev is 2-0 against Anderson, winning a 2015 second-round match at Washington and a first-round meeting in May on his way to the Rome title, his third of 2017 after Montpellier and Munich.

Zverev reached the fourth round at Wimbledon, his deepest Grand Slam run.

"It's going to be a tough match. Alex has had a great year," Anderson said. "For me it's really focusing on things I can do and playing the best I can."

Anderson reached his first final since winning his third career ATP title in 2015 at Winston-Salem. The lanky 31-year-old from Johannesburg saved all three break second-set break points he faced with aces.

"It would mean a lot," Anderson said of a title. "I'm really excited to be there. I think I can take a lot from this week. It's a great start to the summer. It will be a terrific opportunity."

Nishikori, the 2015 Washington champion, last raising a trophy at Memphis in February 2016, a run that includes six finals losses.

Russian seventh seed Ekaterina Makarova outlasted French fifth seed Oceane Dodin 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to book a berth in Sunday's women's final against German fourth seed Julia Goerges or Germany's Andrea Petkovic, the 2013 Washington runner-up.

Makarova, being coached by Britain's Nigel Sears, seeks her first WTA title since 2014 at Pattaya City. The only other crown for the 58th-ranked left-hander was in 2010 at Eastbourne.

Sock, this year's Auckland and Delray Beach champion, had not dropped a set all week and had been broken only once, but Anderson changed that in short order.

Anderson, who eliminated top seed Dominic Thiem in the third round, broke Sock at love for a 2-0 lead and held serve from there to take the first set, saving a break point with a service winner.

Sock double faulted on the first break point of the second set to hand Anderson a 2-1 edge. Anderson saved two break points in the sixth game with an ace and denied Sock's final break chance in the eighth with the last of his 12 aces.

"Some of my best serves were on break points," Anderson said. "I'd like to have brought out some of them earlier but I'll take them. I play my best tennis when my back is against the wall."

Sock ripped the stadium court he played upon all week, saying, "I don't think I'll be back at this tournament, probably, in the future. Probably the worst court of the year. Speed, bounces, everything. Pretty shocking. Probably the worst court on the tour."

The world number 19 was also unhappy about an incorrect line call that forced a replayed point on a break chance.

"It's pretty frustrating," Sock said.

Anderson, whose 62 aces this week lead the field, said of the court: "There are a couple spots where the serve acts a little differently. The bounces themselves seem pretty true."

Added Makarova: "I don't feel they have changed something. Here they are always like this."

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