Alexander Zverev beats Karen Khachanov to win men's singles tennis at Tokyo Olympics

Zverev, who took out world number one Novak Djokovic in the semifinal, brushed the 12th-seeded Khachanov in straight sets in the singles final on Sunday.

Alexander Zverev beat Karen Khachanov in straight sets to clinch the Olympics men's singles gold on Sunday.   -  REUTERS

Alexander Zverev won Germany’s first-ever gold medal in men’s singles following a straightforward 6-3, 6-1 win over Russian Karen Khachanov, on Sunday. The World no.5 has joined Steffi Graf (Seoul 1988, women’s singles) and Boris Becker and Michael Stich (Barcelona 1992, men’s doubles) as the nation’s only gold medallists since the sport returned to the Olympic stage in 1988.

“This is so much bigger than anything else in sports, especially in tennis - this is an incredible feeling me for me right now,” Zverev told ITF Tennis. “There is nothing better than this. You are not only playing for yourself, you are playing for your country, and the Olympics are the biggest sporting event in the world. The feeling I have now, and will have, nothing will be better.”

Zverev, having done all the heavy-lifting in the semifinal win over World no.1 Novak Djokovic and assuring himself of at least the silver, didn’t suffer a let-down against the big-hitting Khachanov. He was clinical in all departments, firing 16 winners, six aces, winning 86% of his first-serve points (25/29) and erasing the lone break-point Khachanov had.

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Zverev broke to go ahead 2-1 in the first set and just like he had in sets two and three against Djokovic, he reeled off seven straight games from 4-3. That left him on the cusp of victory, a set and 5-0 up. Khachanov pulled one game back but couldn’t stop the 24-year-old German from claiming the gold.

There was however cheer for Khachanov’s compatriots Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev who won the gold medal in mixed doubles. In an all-Russian final, the scratch pair posted a memorable victory over French Open 2021 finalists Aslan Karatsev and Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-7(5), [13-11].

Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, meanwhile, couldn’t add the doubles gold to her singles triumph, as she and partner Viktorija Golubic lost to the Czech pair of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 5-7, 1-6.

The Olympic gold capped a terrific summer for Krejcikova, wherein she won the singles and doubles titles at the French Open, reached the singles fourth round at Wimbledon on debut and made the quarterfinals in doubles.

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