Eastbourne | Zverev collects his first title
In the Nature Valley International men’s final, fans were treated to a grass court master class as Zverev served and volleyed his way to his first ATP title.
The German may not have played a final since Metz eight years ago, but he never faltered against his Slovakian opponent, becoming the eighth first-time winner on the ATP tour this year.
For many years I didn't believe in myself, I didn't think I was going to do it, especially when I was ranked 1100 Mischa Zverev
The elder of the two Zverev brothers, ranked 67th in the world, beat Slovakia’s Lacko 6-4 6-4 at Devonshire Park.
Zverev, 30, hit an ace on his first match point to wrap up the title in 97 minutes and his victory meant he and world number three Alexander are the first brothers since 1989 to win a singles event in the same season.
“(It) felt amazing,” said Zverev. “It was definitely one of the emotional moments in my life. Beating Andy (Murray) in Australia was special, but there you win a match, you’re still in, the tournament’s not over. But here you’re the last one standing, pretty much, at the end of the week, and you have the trophy, so it’s definitely a unique feeling.”
Zverev said he had always dreamed of winning at least one title. “For many years I didn’t believe in myself, I didn’t think I was going to do it, especially when I was ranked 1100,” he said. “But thank God I have my family and my brother and the whole team, and my wife is always telling me, no, you can achieve things, you can do big things. Just believe in yourself, work hard, and it’s going to pay off one day.
“Luckily I have them, and luckily I was able to listen to them, believe in myself, and just keep working and wait for it. Finally, I’m here. It’s incredible.”
It has certainly been a long, painful road for the German to get to this point. He suffered a fractured wrist, two fractured ribs, a herniated disc and a small tear of his patella tendon during a spell of injuries that hindered his career.
The German continued, “Seeing Roger play pretty well at the age of 36, he gives me hope that I still go on and play a couple more good tournaments.”
Zverev served superbly throughout the final. He won 86% of points on his first serve and 59% behind his second. He also saved both the break points he faced in the match. He basically dominated Lacko throughout the final.