MADRID (Reuters) - Germany’s Alexander Zverev won the battle of the young guns against Denis Shapovalov on Saturday to set up a Madrid Open final against Austria’s Dominic Thiem.
The 21-year-old third seed was clinical as he trounced erratic Canadian Shapovalov, two years his junior, 6-4 6-1 in less than an hour on center court.
Earlier in the day Thiem backed up his shock defeat of defending champion Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals to beat South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-4 6-2 and reach the final for the second year in succession.
“It’s obviously a great final for kind of the future ahead,” Zverev said of the meeting with Thiem.
“We played five times against each other when he was already top 10 and I was more in the developing stage still. Obviously he’s leading the head-to-head. But I’m playing quite well. So is he. Hopefully it will be another entertaining one.”
Zverev and Shapovalov did not take to court until around 10 pm local time after Petra Zvitova’s marathon final victory over Kiki Bertens in the women’s singles.
Initially it appeared the eagerly-anticipated clash between two dynamic shotmakers, who are expected to be battling for grand slams in the near future, would live up to the pre-match billing.
The opening eight games went with serve with Shapovalov producing some trademark backhands winners from his single-hander, including one audacious topspin lob.
Zverev already has two Masters 1000 titles to his name, and his greater experience told in the ninth game.
Shapovalov framed a forehand at 30-30 to offer the first break point of the match and Zverev pounced with a crunching backhand return his opponent fended into the net.
The second set proved a no-contest as Zverev took complete control against a dispirited looking opponent.
Thiem claimed a first win against Anderson at the seventh attempt with a commanding display.
None of the their previous meetings had been on Thiem’s favored clay and the surface proved decisive as he managed to dictate against Anderson who was appearing in his first semi-final of a Masters 1000 event.
Thiem needed a single break of serve in the opening set and broke twice in the second to wrap up victory.
He said his victory over Nadal had been a timely boost after being thrashed by the Spaniard in Monte Carlo and falling in the quarter-finals in Barcelona.
“It gave me a huge boost of confidence,” he said. “That’s for sure. But in the same time, it was a completely different matchup today.
“There was also the fact that I never beat him. It was 0-6 before today. Some things were a little bit shaky. But I was keeping my level up from yesterday, so that was a great thing.”
Thiem will need to maintain his level if he is to claim a first Masters 1000 title on Sunday although her does boast a 4-1 career head-to-head lead over Zverev.
Reporting by Martyn Herman,; Editing by Ed Osmond/Gene Cherry