Alexander Zverev has suffered an embarrassing meltdown as he looked to serve out his match against Andy Murray, giving up an embarrassing victory to the Scotsman.
The pair faced off in the round of 32 at the Cincinnati Masters, with world No.7 Zverev dropping the first set to the veteran.
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He bounced back well to claim the second set 6-3, and despite a close run battle in the deciding set, Zverev had the upper hand as he served for the match at 5-4.
What followed was an extraordinary capitulation, with Zverev dishing up three double-faults and having his serve broken.
Murray then held his own serve for a 6-5 lead, before Zverev again had trouble getting his serve in.
Two more double-faults in that service game effectively handed the game to Murray, who progressed in his US Open preparation with a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 victory.
A surprised Murray was pleased to have held on for a victory, but suggested the lack of a crowd might have played a part in the unforeseen turn of events.
“I fought hard. It’s a good effort to win that after not playing for a while. I’m glad to get through it,” Murray said.
“I would way prefer playing with the crowd. I hit a running passing shot winner up the line … and you get silence! You feed off the crowd. That maybe explains the drop in intensity in a long match like that.”
Tennis pundits shocked by Alexander Zverev ‘meltdown’
As for Zverev, the sting of the loss was compounded by the commentary surrounding it on social media, with many tennis pundits pointing out his weakness inn serving.
UK-based tennis reporter George Bellshaw said Zverev’s ‘meltdown’ handed Murray his best win by ranking since he’d defeated Novak Djokovic in 2016.
Andy Murray, the man with a metal hip, stuns world No. 7 Alexander Zverev 6-3 3-6 7-5 at the Western & Southern Open in NY. His best win by ranking since beating Novak Djokovic (2) at the ATP Finals in 2016 to seal year-end world No. 1. Meltdown from Zverev on serve at the end 😬
— George Bellshaw (@BellshawGeorge) August 24, 2020
Various other tennis writers weighed in on the loss, which will come as a major blow for Zverev as the US Open draws near.
American writer Dan Wolken perhaps summed the spectacle up best.
“It is physically painful to watch Sascha Zverev serve under pressure,” he wrote after the match.
And he loses to Andy Murray. Double faulted on break point when serving for the match, then started the 5-6 game in the third set with two double faults. Brutal. https://t.co/PZEQNWmZ4u
— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) August 24, 2020
For his part, Zverev said after the match that he had spent several months working on improving his serve, but that it had again let him down on this occasion.
“This is the thing I was working on for the past six months,” he said.
“During the match it was okay, but in important moments it went again.
“But, you know, all in all, it was okay. I think it was not the best match I have ever played, but after six months, it’s not easy to come back.
“I mean, I just watched Dominic Thiem lose to (Filip Krajinovic) 6-2, 6-2. It’s the first match back, and I think there are going to be some weird results.”
Zverev serving to stay alive. Hits two double faults. Four consecutive already. Incredible.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) August 24, 2020