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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, August 13, 2017

Clad completely in black, Alexander Zverev made no concession to the high sun or the 19-time Grand Slam king on the other side of the net.

In a ruthless display of first-strike tennis, Zverev denied all three break points he faced overpowering a leg-weary Roger Federer, 6-3, 6-4, to capture his second Masters 1000 title of the season in Montreal.

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Hammering heavy serves and drilling deep drives to wrench control of rallies, Zverev looked fresher and struck with more ferocity throughout much of the 68-minute final.

“I try to be as aggressive as I can,” Zverev told ESPN's Brad Gilbert afterward. “If Roger starts being aggressive with his forehand and backhand then it’s not going to be an easy day for me. I tried to be aggressive on both those strokes. It worked out well today.”

Federer could not crack the Zverev serve as his 16-match winning streak came to an end with his first loss in six finals this year.

A two-time Rogers Cup champion with both of those titles coming in Toronto, the 36-year-old Swiss came up short trying to win his first in Montreal. Federer did not disclose if he was battling injury or simply playing with soreness in his first tournament since collecting his eighth Wimbledon championship last month.

“Hopefully you can tell me one day how it feels to win Montreal—I don’t know,” joked Federer to Zverev during the trophy presentation.

The defeat dropped Federer’s record to 35-3 this season.

Today’s final was the only match all year in which the Swiss did not hold a match point in and virtually ensures second-ranked Rafael Nadal will succeed Andy Murray as world No. 1 as long as Federer does not win the Cincinnati title.

Washington, DC champion Zverev played with the command of a man who can someday reach the top of tennis. Zverev extended his winning streak to 10 matches capturing his fifth title of the season, which equals Federer for the ATP lead. Since former world No. 1 and Federer rival Juan Carlos Ferrero joined his team, Zverev has not lost a match. 

The 20-year-old German joins Jo-Wilfried Tsonga as just the second active man other than the big four—Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Federer and Novak Djokovic—to win multiple Masters 1000 championships. Zverev is the first man other than the big four to win two Masters titles in the same season since David Nalbandian defeated Federer in the Madrid final then toppled Nadal in the Paris Indoors final in 2007.

Zverev defeated Novak Djokovic by nearly the identical score in the Rome final and forced Federer into defensive positions from the outset today.

“Maybe he started to move a little bit slower, but he got to the final here so he’s playing amazing tennis,” Zverev said of Federer's movement. “I’m just happy to get through."

Swinging with menacing intent on his second serve, Zverev often drilled his second delivery in excess of 115 mph. That aggressive attitude on serve was key to the opening set.

The fourth-seeded German served 62 percent, won eight of 11 points played on his second serve and played big, bold first-strike tennis.

The jolting pace of the German’s heavy shots created timing issues for the second seed at the outset. Zverev zapped a forehand pass to earn break point in the second game before Federer worked through that test for 1-all.

Two games later, the Rome champion ripped a backhand winner down the line for another break point. A big forehand crosscourt and swing volley helped Zverev rattle out an error and the break for 3-1.

Streaming winners from all areas of the court, the 20-year-old even gave Federer a dose of Federer finesse, carving out a backhand drop shot winner to hold for 5-2.

Self-correction is a Zverev strength—he assesses what went right or wrong on the prior point and adjusts accordingly.

Stiff-arming a forehand into net for 30-all, Zverev blasted a 134 mph missile down the middle for set point. Rocketing a flat serve out wide that ricocheted off Federer’s frame, Zverev closed the 29-minute opener with authority.

Dropping well behind the baseline to return serve, Federer began dipping low balls at Zvereve’s feet. A backhand error gave the Swiss his first break point of the day in the second game of the second set. Zverev banged a big second serve into the body to deny it.

A spiking wind sent flags atop the stadium flapping, while Zverev brain-cramped netting a drop shot attempt from the baseline to face a third break point.

The world No. 8 broke out an emphatic eraser bombing success aces then snapping an aggressive serve holding for 1-all.

One game later, Zverev narrowly missed a backhand pass on a second break point as Federer worked through a challenging hold in the third game.

Out-hit in longer baseline exchanges, Federer tried to shorten points. Instead he netted a backhand drop shot then saw Zverev snap off a smash for triple break point in the seventh game. An out of sorts Federer guided a forehand well wide as Zverev broke for 4-3.

In full command, the 20-year-old Germany bolted a backhand winner down the line confirming the break with a love hold.

Serving for his second Masters crown of the season, Zverev flew through the finish line with an emphatic love hold to wrap up an impressive 68-minute victory.

Zverev, who fought off three match points defeating Richard Gasquet in his opener, raised his record to 46-13 on the season. 


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