Zverev defends Washington crown

Alexander Zverev of Germany poses with the trophy after beating Alex de Minaur, of Australia, in the men's finals of the Citi Open. AFP

Alexander Zverev says defending his ATP Washington Open title shows growing in strength and maturity, but the world number three still sees a big gap to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

The 21-year-old German won his third title of the year and the ninth of his career by defeating Australian teen Alex De Minaur 6-2, 6-4 in the 50th edition of the US Open tuneup event.

"What a fantastic week for me," Zverev said. "Winning a tournament on its 50th anniversary is something amazing. This has been a very special week for me.

"(Defending a title) feels great and shows mental strength as well. It shows a little maturity I think."

While Zverev stands atop a generation of rising young stars, he still puts 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer, 36, and 17-time Grand Slam champion Nadal, 32, on the highest of pedestals.

"Roger and Rafa are still the best out there and still competing for Grand Slam titles," he said.

Murray 'shock'

De Minaur reached the semi-finals when three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray withdrew Friday after three grueling three-set matches in only his third event since missing 11 months with a right hip injury.

"To go from nothing to back-to-backs like that was quite a shock to the system. He was a bit beaten up," said Andy's brother Jamie Murray, who won the doubles title with Brazilian Bruno Soares.

Murray also withdrew from next week's event in Canada but plans to play in Cincinnati the following week.

"Andy is on his way back," Zverev said.

"He looked unbelievable here. It's going to be great to see what he can do."

In the companion WTA event final, two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova saved four match points and rallied to defeat Croatia's Donna Vekic 4-6, 7-6 (9/7), 6-2 for her 18th career title.

It was the 33-year-old Russian's first crown since 2016 in Moscow and second in Washington after 2014.

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Zverev defends Washington crown

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