Svetlana Kuznetsova brought Venus Williams' defense of the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open to abrupt end on Wednesday with a dominant victory in their eagerly anticipated third-round showdown.
Fresh off his first ATP World Tour title at the St. Petersburg Open, Alexander Zverev arrived in Shenzhen on Tuesday following an overnight flight to Hong Kong. Zverev opens his Shenzhen Open campaign Wednesday against fellow NextGen rival Yoshihito Nishioka, who celebrated his 21st birthday Tuesday.
WEDNESDAY PREVIEW: Three days after the biggest win of his budding career, Alexander Zverev will play a tour-level match in China for the first time against fellow #NextGen player Yoshihito Nishioka. Zverev stunned US Open champion and World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka at St. Petersburg on Sunday, capturing his first ATP World Tour title by ending the Swiss’ 11-match win streak in finals. The 19-year-old German is the youngest ATP World Tour champion since Kei Nishikori at Delray Beach in February 2008 and the first teenager to win a title since Marin Cilic at New Haven in August 2008. Zverev is now No. 19 in the Emirates ATP Race To London and could become the youngest player to end a year in the Top 20 since Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray in 2006.
Zverev vs. Nishioka is the final first-round match of the Shenzhen Open, with four second-rounders also on Wednesday’s schedule. Among the men seeking quarter-final spots is qualifier Mischa Zverev, Alexander’s 29-year-old brother. The elder Zverev defeated Zhicheng Zhu and Henri Laaksonen over the weekend to qualify for the eighth time on tour in 2016, tying him for the lead with Chengdu Open qualifier Radek Stepanek. Mischa Zverev, who hasn’t reached an ATP World Tour quarter-final since Valencia in 2015, meets No. 7 seed Fabio Fognini.
On Centre Court, No. 2 seed David Goffin meets Jaziri in a match with Emirates ATP Race To London implications. Goffin is 11th in the race for eight berths at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, but he needs to reach the Shenzhen semi-finals to gain any points this week. Jaziri, meanwhile, is enjoying his best season as a pro, earning a career-high 15 tour-level wins and three titles on the ATP Challenger Tour.
Following that match, Australian qualifier Andrew Whittington meets No. 3 seed Richard Gasquet. The 23-year-old Whittington made a memorable ATP World Tour debut on Monday, saving four match points against fellow qualifier Luca Vanni. In the final match of the day, No. 6 seed Benoit Paire takes on 224th-ranked Tipsarevic. After struggling with foot and knee injuries for much of the last three seasons, Tipsarevic hopes to end a stretch of 22 tour-level events since his last quarter-final at Bogota in 2013. The former World No. 8 has not won back-to-back matches since reaching the 2013 US Open fourth round.
If Alexander Zverev finishes the 2016 season in the Top 20, he will join elite company. Five of the last 10 teens to end a year in the Top 20 have gone on to become World No. 1, while three others peaked at No. 2.
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Alexander Zverev is setting his sights on ATP World Tour history after his recent breakthrough title.
The 19-year-old #NextGen star is trying to become the first teenager to finish the year in the Top 20 of the Emirates ATP Rankings since 2006. Zverev, currently ranked No. 24, would join an exclusive list of players if he were to accomplish the feat. Since 1994, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, World No. 2 Andy Murray, former Top 10 player Richard Gasquet and former World No. 1s Rafael Nadal, Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick are the only players who have finished a year in the Top 20 as teenagers.
Zverev, who turned 19 in April, matched his career-best ranking of No. 24 with his first ATP World Tour title on Sunday. The Hamburg native beat top seed Stan Wawrinka at the St. Petersburg Open to become the first teenage titlist on the ATP World Tour since 19-year-old Marin Cilic won New Haven in 2008. Zverev had played in two previous finals, losing to Dominic Thiem at Nice and Florian Mayer at Halle.
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Relive the best of the 2016 St. Petersburg Open, where Alexander Zverev beat Stan Wawrinka to claim his maiden ATP World Tour title. St. Petersburg Open photo.