Alexander Zverev is in the semifinals of a tennis tournament for the first time since his serious foot injury.
The Olympic champion defeated Italian Lorenzo Sonego 7-5, 6-4 at the ATP event in Dubai, showing his best performance since his comeback. In the fight for the final, Zverev will meet the winner of the game between the Russian Andrei Rubljow and Botic van de Zandschulp from the Netherlands on Friday.
"It's been a very difficult time for me over the past nine months," said Zverev. "It shows that hard work is paying off. I'm extremely happy with the level I'm playing here and I hope it won't be my last semi-final this year."
Zverev looks self-confident again
Zverev (25) tore several ligaments in his right foot in the semifinals of the French Open in Paris against Rafael Nadal at the beginning of June last year and then had to pause for around seven months. In the first few weeks after his return, he had found it very difficult and could not win two games in a row before Dubai.
In Dubai, however, Zverev is getting better and better. After the hard-fought three-set victory in his opening match against the Czech Jiri Lehecka, the German number one had already improved in the round of 16 against the Australian Christopher O'Connell. Zverev now looked much more confident against Sonego after the two wins.
Zverev only had to survive a moment of shock in his first service game, but fended off three breakballs and thus a false start. After that, the native of Hamburg was the dominant player and got the first set after exactly one hour. Zverev also impressed in the second round with a powerful game and made significantly fewer mistakes than in the weeks before. With an ace, Zverev used his first match ball after 1:51 hours.