Zverev dominates Anderson in Washington for Citi Open title
The past champions whose names line the grandstands at the Citi Open include Andre Agassi (five times), Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg and Ivan Lendl.
On Sunday, Alexander Zverev showed he may one day belong among such exalted company.
The 20-year-old rising star from Germany picked up early breaks in each set and was never challenged on his serve in a 6-4, 6-4 victory over South African veteran Kevin Anderson on Sunday for his fourth ATP title of the year. That matches Rafael Nadal's victory total this season and trails only Roger Federer's five.
The eighth-ranked Zverev dropped his opening set in Washington and had to survive a third-set tiebreaker to avoid an upset in the first round. He didn't lose a set after that opening match against Jordan Thompson and grew stronger as the tournament went on, having little trouble with the hot and humid conditions or the late nights brought on by rain delays.
"I feel like the longer the tournament gets, the better I start to play," Zverev said.
The title was Zverev's first of his career on an outdoor hardcourt and gives him momentum heading into the US Open, which starts on August 28.
Anderson, 31, came in with a tournament-best 62 aces, but Zverev got enough first serves back to give himself ample break opportunities. Zverev broke Anderson early in each set and never faced a break point on his own serve.
He played with little fear, ripping hard, flat cross-court backhands that caught Anderson off-balance. Serving at 4-3, 0-15 in the first set, Zverev hit a 127-mph second serve for a winner, and then followed it with a 121-mph first-serve ace.
Zverev's previous titles this year came at a Masters event on clay in Rome, along with wins on clay in Munich and on indoor hardcourts in Montpellier, France.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he wins a few Grand Slams, at any rate," Anderson said. "That's definitely what the path looks like right now."
Seeking his fourth career title and first since 2015, Anderson looked shaky early, double-faulting twice and surviving two break points in the opening game. Serving at 15-40 at 1-1 in the first set, Anderson hit a short ball deep to Zverev's backhand. Zverev got it back and Anderson hit an overhead into the net.
In the second set, an error by Anderson at 30-40 in the first game gave Zverev another break, and the German was hardly challenged from there.
"I was pretty happy with the way I played," Anderson said. "Didn't even get a break point today. He played well with having that lead in those two sets."
Zverev's father, Alexander Sr, is a former tour pro from Russia who now coaches Alexander and his older brother, Mischa, who currently is ranked 26th. The family moved to Germany in 1991.
"It's quite amazing what we've achieved," Zverev said to his father during his victory speech. "You might be the best coach in the history of tennis."
Ekaterina Makarova of Russia rallied to beat Julia Goerges of Germany 3-6, 7-6 (2), 6-0 to take the women's title in a draw that lost much of its star power when second-ranked Simona Halep retired because she felt ill in the Washington summer heat.
Makarova and Halep were tied at a set apiece when Halep retired in their quarterfinal match. The 58th-ranked Makarova went on to beat Oceane Dodin in the semifinals.
On Sunday, Goerges won the first set easily and was down a break in the second before she won three straight games, two of them on Makarova's serve, to give herself an opportunity to serve for the match. But she failed to close it out and, after an error-filled tiebreak, didn't win another game, frequently scowling and gesturing toward the grandstand.
It was the third career title for Makarova, 29, and her first since 2014. Goerges was seeking her first title in six years.
In Stanford, California, third-seeded Madison Keys outslugged No. 6 CoCo Vandeweghe 7-6 (4), 6-4 on Sunday to win the Bank of the West Classic in a display of power and serving by the two young American stars in their first career matchup.
Keys won her third career title and first on hardcourt playing under cloudless skies. She finally got her chance by rallying back to deuce in the ninth game of the second set, when Vandeweghe surrendered serve for the first time in the tournament.
Keys, who missed the first two months of the season following surgery on her left wrist, eliminated Wimbledon champion and top-seeded Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 6-2 in 57 minutes on Saturday night to reach her first final this year.
A day later, Keys needed nearly that amount of time to win the first set in a tiebreaker: The opening set went 53 minutes then the second just 35.
The 22-year-old American had never won a championship on home soil.
In an event missing the marquee names such as the Williams sisters and Maria Sharapova — who pulled out with a left arm injury ahead of her second match on Wednesday — these two put on a great show, pounding groundstrokes in long points and holding serve all afternoon until that one decisive game.
This marked the 12th final between two Americans in tournament history and first since Vandeweghe's loss to Serena Williams in 2012.
Both women are projected to return to the top-20 in rankings when they are released on Monday.