These two players have crossed paths twice, again in 2016. At the Hopman Cup and then at the Australian Open. Andy Murray won without losing a set.
Alexander Zverev knows this tournament well. This will be his sixth consecutive year of participation. Unfortunately, he never really made it because he never made it past the second round. Last season he was surprised by Miomir Kecmanovic.
Andy Murray, meanwhile, is playing Cincinnati for the 15th time in his career. The British has reached the quarter-finals 9 times, and has lifted the trophy twice. Finally, it was 2 years in a row that he couldn’t make it past the first round.
In this edition
Alexander Zverev took advantage of his ranking to skip the first round.
Andy Murray won his first match of the week against Frances Tiafoe. A nice win obtained after 2h30 of play and 3 sets (including a tie-break he won).
I’m not sure it’s a good thing for Alexander Zverev to have skipped the first round. The German is going to show up on the court without a rhythm, and facing an opponent who has already been able to take his marks (and who is hungry).
All this to say that Alexander Zverev might need a little time to get back into the swing of things, and that could benefit Andy Murray. Also, I must confess that I have great doubts about the German’s service. He’s proven again lately that he can be quite feverish, and his seconds often open doors for great receivers.
Andy Murray is just one of those good return-of-service players. And I can see him making some nice shots that wouldn’t put Alexander Zverev in the best conditions to start the rally.
In his first match, the current 129th world player was very good on his service games: 8 aces, 78% points on his first balls, 65% on his seconds and only one break conceded. He also released powerful shots that managed to put his opponent on the defensive. Not to mention his good ball lengths, which were always unsettling. Really, if Murray plays the same way against Zverev, then he will have a great chance to win this match.
The physical recovery of the British will be an important element in this match. He played two and a half hours on Saturday and Zverev could force him to take part in some long rallies. But Murray will have had a day to recover, and I expect him to be in good shape for this second round.
Let’s not underestimate Alexander Zverev who remains a great player capable of dominating the rallies by staying on his baseline. He’s also a tough guy and that could make the difference in this match. However, Andy Murray remains a very catchy player who has shown a very good level of play lately. He’s not really the type of opponent Zverev likes to play against, let alone in a rematch.
Prediction: Andy Murray wins