Sports Gazette

by sports journalism students at St Mary's University, London

Alexander Zverev beats Murray and can now call himself the conqueror of the “big four”

Posted on 15 October 2021 by Kristina Thiedeitz

All good things come in threes, as Alexander Zverev found out when he took to the court against Andy Murray in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open. The German had failed to beat the Scot in their previous two outings and sought to complete his collection of beating every “big four” player, with Murray the last man standing.

The “big four” are four players who are considered the most influential tennis players of recent years. They include Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Nowadays, however, this designation is rarely used, as Murray is repeatedly plagued by career-threatening injuries.

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To reach the match, third seed Alexander Zverev did not have to play the first round and instead focused on the second round, where he met American Jenson Brooksby. After some difficulties in the second set, the German won the match in three sets, 6-4, 3-6, and 6-1.

Meanwhile, Murray was given a wild card and played Adrian Mannarino, which he won 6-3, 6-2 to reach the second round. Then the 34-year-old displayed some of his finest tennis since hip surgery, beating an energetic Carlos Alcaraz 5-7, 6-3, and 6-2, showing the young guns that the older generation can keep up.

Murray’s confidence from the previous rounds and Zverev’s strong form resulted in a high-class clash on court one. From the first point, the Briton showed his nerve with an ace straight down the middle and went on to win the first game without complication. Zverev, on the other hand, struggled with his service game and was broken. Murray built on the early momentum gaining a 3-0 lead. One could call it a false start for the German. But after the early hiccup, he cut down on the number of errors and steadied his serve. Zverev was then able to profit from some of Murray’s mistakes whilst finding his rhythm to win five games in a row and eventually close out the opening set 6-4 after 48 minutes.

The Scot bounced back in the second set, taking a 3-1 lead, in which he put on a fiery display of emotion that drew encouraging reviews from the crowd. However, Zverev kept his composure, displaying fantastic footwork to win the next two games and bring the match level. Both players continued to battle, breaking each other’s service reaching a 5-5 standoff. Murray was the first to blink with a double fault handing Zverev a 6-5 lead. But serving for the win, the mounting pressure was too much for Zverev, and he allowed Murray to break back with the set to be decided in a tiebreak. It was very close like the play prior, but the German showed his quality to win the match 6-4, 7-6 in two hours and seven minutes of play.

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Whilst Britain’s Andy Murray played excellent tennis, fighting for every ball, Zverev showed his consistency to secure the victory, and thus, win against the final “big four” player standing. Speaking to Sky, he said after the game: “It’s a great feeling! I don’t think many in the world have managed to win against all four. I am very happy. But for me, there is still more to come.” Alexander Zverev will face Taylor Fritz in the Quarter-Final. But with the win against Andy Murray, he can consider his dream of beating every “big four” as fulfilled.