Zverev sets up Rome final with Jarry


Germany’s Alexander Zverev equalled compatriot Boris Becker’s record by reaching an 11th Masters final on Friday when he ended the Rome Open giant-killing run of Alejandro Tabilo to set-up a title showdown against Nicolas Jarry.

World number five Zverev, who lifted the Rome trophy in 2017, battled back to see off Tabilo 1-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 to tie Becker’s record for the most Masters finals by a German since the series began in 1990.

Third seed Zverev looked like he would become the latest high-ranking victim of an unusual men’s tournament when he was battered in a sensational opening set.

But Zverev battled back and after coming through a tight second set his class eventually showed, making the final at the Foro Italico for the third time.

“I was just hanging on in the second set. I brought my energy up. I was really just hanging on and waiting and the patience was kind of good today,” Zverev said on court.

“He hit me off the court in the first set and I did not play well at all, but he was a big reason why. He gave me no rhythm and I am happy I turned it around in the tie-break and ran away in the third set.”

Tabilo’s run to the last four had become one of the stories of a tournament which was shed of a host of top men players either to pre-event injuries or shock early eliminations.

The 26-year-old Chilean had defeated world number one Novak Djokovic in the third round and the 32nd-ranked player showed little fear of Zverev until he began to play more passively in the second set tie-break.

Jarry ends Paul’s hopes

Zverev will be a big favourite to win Sunday’s championship match when he faces Tabilo’s countryman Jarry, who won his first Masters 1000 semi-final against Tommy Paul 6-3, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3.

Jarry is guaranteed to move up to a career-high number 17 in the world rankings after reaching his seventh ATP final.

The 28-year-old is hunting his fourth tour title after coming through a more prosaic encounter with American Paul than Zverev had with Tabilo.

Jarry took the first set after breaking in game eight.

Paul fought back and won a more eventful second set, but instead of pushing on he missed the chance to become the first American to reach the Rome final since Andre Agassi 22 years ago.

Jarry sealed the deal after wasting four match points in the most dramatic game of the contest, setting up the biggest match of his career.

“I was able to come back with my tennis in the third set, play very aggressive. To finish the match is never easy but I made it through and it’s an amazing feeling,” said Jarry.

“I think that in those moments I play my best tennis, when I have to give it all and I go for it.”

Italian fans will have something to cheer for on Sunday after Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini reached the women’s doubles final where they will face Coco Gauff and Erin Routliffe.

Home supporters were denied the chance to see world number two Jannik Sinner and former Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini who pulled out before the event started.

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