Both the title favourites on the day, suffered unexpected defeats in their respective Rome finals. The first upset saw Simona Halep beaten by the in-form Elina Svitolina for the Italian Open title and was followed by Novak Djokovics defeat at the hands of Alexander Zverev for the Rome Masters 1000 crown.
It’s nice to know that I can compete and play and win the biggest tournaments on tour against the biggest players on tour. Alexander Zverev
The 20-year-old German, Zverev defeated Serbia’s world number two, Djokovic 6-4 6-3 to secure his first Masters 1000 title in what was their first meeting and ironically, becomes the youngest player to win at that level since a 19-year-old Djokovic won his first in Miami 10 years ago.
“It’s nice to know that I can compete and play and win the biggest tournaments on tour against the biggest players on tour,” Zverev said. “I’m very happy the way I played. Very happy with my performance all week, actually. And especially today, I think today was one of the best matches I ever played maybe.
“You know, I knew I had to be aggressive from the first point on and to the last. It was very important for me to be able to stay this aggressive and don’t let him take over the game.”
Djokovic acknowledged he was beaten by the better player on the day. “He’s making his mark already,” Djokovic said. “Today winning one of the biggest tournaments – absolutely deserved. Played great, served great. On the other hand, he didn’t get much from my side. I played very poor today. Just couldn’t find any rhythm.”
“He served very well. I just wasn’t able to get any rhythm on my returns. If we would get into a rally, he would smash the ball from the first or second shot… There is no doubt he took time away from me. It happens. If he serves this well and this efficiently, it’s tough to play him on any surface.”
Considering how well Djokovic had played 24-hours earlier to dismiss Dominic Thiem, the result was a shock but a welcome one as it elevated the youngster into the top ten and underscored the potential which most pundits have seen in him.
Djjokovic also announced after his defeat that Andre Agassi will be coaching him during the French Open and could well become his full-time coach, perhaps as a consultant.
In women’s action, Elina Svitolina beat Simona Halep 4-6 7-5 6-1 for her fourth title of the year. She also leads the WTA Tour with 31 match wins this season.
“Every day I’m just trying to work on my mental part, my physical, my tennis,” said the Ukranian. “Everything just came together and I’m very happy that it’s happened in such a big tournament.”
Halep, who won Madrid last week, rolled her ankle near the end of the first set.