The Diriyah Tennis Cup came to an end on Saturday with Taylor Fritz’s victory over Daniil Medvedev, the winner of the first edition. With a royal line-up, an unlikely doubles match and Alexander Zverev’s comeback, here are the highlights from this tough exhibition tournament held in Saudi Arabia.
An incredible line up
Who said the 2022 season was over? The Diriyah Tennis Cup brought together 12 players, including 5 of the world’s top 10: Stefanos Tsitsipas, the world number 4, which was the main headliner alongside Daniil Medvedev, the world number 7 and the winner of the first and only edition in 2019. Andrey Rublev (no. 8), Taylor Fritz (no. 9), Hubert Hurkacz (no. 10), the returning Alexander Zverev (see elsewhere, no. 12), Cameron Norrie (no. 14), Matteo Berrettini (no. 16 ), Nick Kyrgios (no. 22) and the Grand Slam winners Dominic Thiem (no. 105) and Stan Wawrinka (no. 149) completed the line-up.
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The Swiss man Dominic Stricker, 118th in the world at age 20, was the 12th and final player in this tournament with a somewhat unusual format. The four best players, according to the ATP ranking (Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Rublev and Fritz), were exempt from the first round, where the 8 others battled it out in two-set matches. A 10-point tie breaker in the 3rd set was implemented from the quarter-finals onwards.
Zverev’s winning comeback
It had been more than six months since he’d appeared on the court. After injuring his right ankle in the semi-final of the French Open against Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel. The German made his big comeback at the Diriyah Tennis Cup. He won against Dominic Thiem, himself recently injured, in the round of 16 (10-8, 10-7). “I’ve missed everything over these last seven months. It hasn’t been easy for me. I’ve missed the circuit, the tournaments, even the interviews, I’ve missed absolutely everything,” the German told Eurosport.
Even though he assured that he had “no goals” apart from “having fun,” Zverev couldn’t do anything against Daniil Medvedev in the quarter finals (6-4, 6-0). But this wasn’t an issue for the German, who hopes to get back on track for 2023.
Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas in a double at the Diriyah Tennis Cup
Image credit: Diriyah Tennis Cup
Tsitsipas-Kyrgios, a doubles match and all is forgotten?
The last time that Nick Kyrgios and Stefanos Tsitsipas came face to face was in the tense 3rd round of Wimbledon last July. The two players were even fined and continued their friendly words after the match. Seeing them playing doubles at the Diriyah Tennis Cup, where the pairs were randomly selected among the players eliminated at the quarter-finals, which was one of the oddities of the tournament. Kyrgios and Tsitsipas were defeated (7-6, 7-6) by Hubert Hurkacz and Dominic Stricker, the eventual tournament winners. But that wasn’t the main point. The Australian shared two photos: one of him “checking” on his best enemy during their alliance and another with Tsitsipas from a few years ago. “You’re crazy, brother,” said the Greek. These two seemed to have buried the hatchet!
What about the results? Stan Wawrinka, the oldest player at 38 years old, but the lowest ranked in the tournament, put on a show beating Matteo Berrettini and then Andrey Rublev in three sets, before being defeated by Daniil Medvedev in the semi-final (6-4, 6-4). The other semi-final between Cameron Norrie and Taylor Fritz was the only other match to end in just three sets, with the American coming out on top (7-6, 4-6, 10-6). Norrie faultlessly dominated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter finals (6-4, 6-4), whereas Fritz had a bit more difficulty against Hubert Hurkacz (7-6, 7-5). The American continued his winning streak against Medvedev in the final on Saturday in a very tough match (7-6, 7-6) to win the Diriyah Tennis Cup.
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