Zverev blows away Thiem

Germany's Alexander Zverev celebrates with the Madrid Open trophy after winning the final against Austria's Dominic Thiem. REUTERS

Alexander Zverev showed his clay-court class by blowing away Dominic Thiem to win the Madrid Masters on Sunday.

Zverev has long been marked out as a future star of the men’s game and his 6-4, 6-4 victory over Thiem suggests the German can be a major threat at the French Open later this month.

Thiem had ousted Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals on Friday and he too will be among the small group capable of preventing the Spaniard from claiming an 11th Roland Garros crown.

But the Austrian was outplayed, and over-powered, by Zverev, who collects his third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, the most prestigious tier of knock-out tournament beneath the four Grand Slams.

Zverev is now one of five active players to have won three, the others being Roger Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.

Those four are all aged 30 or older, while Zverev is 21.

On this evidence, that breakthrough is surely close, with the crowd on Manolo Santana court treated to an impressive display of aggressive baseline hitting. Thiem’s 21 errors to Zverev’s 12 were also key.

After conceding an early break for 2-0, Thiem’s only sniff came at 5-4 when he opened up 0-30 on the Zverev serve. But his opponent did not waver, letting out a roar of relief after clinching the frame.

Another break in the first game of the second meant Thiem was again playing catch-up and Zverev could have moved 3-0 clear had Thiem not saved two more break points.

Instead, Thiem stayed in touch to make Zverev serve out. A sumptuous half-volley opened up two match points and Zverev took the first when a final Thiem forehand floated long. 

Kvitova wears crown

Petra Kvitova outlasted the unseeded Kiki Bertens to win a thrilling final on Saturday 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 6-3 and become the first player to lift the trophy for a third time.

Czech Kvitova, ranked 10th in the world, struck the first blow in a tense match which lasted two hours 52 minutes by edging the tie-break at the end of a gruelling 75-minute first set, taking advantage of a third set point when Bertens found the net. The Dutchwoman had beaten Caroline Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova in a sparkling week in the Spanish capital.

Wawrinka beaten

Swiss star Stan Wawrinka struggled on his return after almost three months on the sidelines, falling to a first-round defeat in the clay-court Italian Open on Sunday.

Wawrinka lost 6-4, 6-4 to 55th-ranked American Steve Johnson.

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Zverev blows away Thiem

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