Zverev beats Auger-Aliassime in Cologne to end title wait

Alexander Zverev
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Updated 18 October 2020

Zverev beats Auger-Aliassime in Cologne to end title wait

  • Alexander Zverev has had a breakthrough year in Grand Slam tournaments with his first semifinal at the Australian Open in January

COLOGNE: Alexander Zverev ended his 17-month wait for a title by drawing on the pain of his US Open final defeat to beat Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-3 and win the Cologne Indoors on Sunday.

Zverev has had a breakthrough year in Grand Slam tournaments with his first semifinal at the Australian Open in January and first final at the US Open last month, when he lost to Dominic Thiem. Zverev has said he thinks almost constantly about that final, and he credited it with raising his game in Cologne.

“I had a very tough final in New York and, the next final I played here, I wanted to come out and play my best tennis,” he said.

The German hadn’t played the final of any regular ATP Tour events in 2020 until Sunday. Zverev’s previous title was at the clay-court Geneva Open in May 2019 and he is now 12-8 in career finals.

Zverev broke Auger-Aliassime’s serve in the first game of the match to establish early control. Zverev broke in the second at 3-2 and saved two break points in his next service game to hold off a fightback from the Canadian.

Auger-Aliassime is still waiting for his first career title after losing six finals in two seasons, all of them in straight sets. All three of the finals that the 20-year-old Canadian has played this year have been on indoor hard courts.

Zverev said he and Auger-Aliassime had bonded while practicing together in Monaco during the coronavirus pandemic, and he predicted a bright future for the Canadian. “You’re going to be lifting a winner’s trophy very, very soon,” Zverev said.

In another tennis event, Serbia’s Laslo Djere ousted home hope Marco Cecchinato in two sets to win his second ATP title in the Sardinia Open.

Djere, 25, won 7-6 (7/3), 7-5 against the Italian wildcard, having also previously won on clay in Rio de Janeiro last year.

The 74th-ranked Serb held off a fightback from 28-year-old Cecchinato in the second set to win through after 2hr 19min.

“It’s tough losing a final but I leave here with so many positive things because now I am coming back to the Top 100,” said Cecchinato, the 2018 French Open semifinalist.

The former world No. 16 had been bidding for his fourth career title.


Southampton end Everton’s unbeaten start

Updated 25 October 2020

Southampton end Everton’s unbeaten start

  • Goals from James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams seal a 2-0 win against the Premier League leaders

LONDON: Southampton ended Everton’s unbeaten start to the season as goals from James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams sealed a 2-0 win against the Premier League leaders on Sunday.

Everton had gone eight games without defeat in all competitions this term, but they paid the price for a lethargic display at St. Mary’s.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side fell behind to Ward-Prowse’s first-half goal and Adams doubled their lead before the interval.

Everton left-back Lucas Digne was sent off for a dangerous challenge on Kyle Walker-Peters in the second half despite his claims he tripped when he stood on the Southampton defender’s heel.

Without the suspended Richarlison and injured Seamus Coleman after the stormy Merseyside derby draw with Liverpool last weekend, Everton lacked the drive and quality that had been the hallmark of their strong start to the campaign.

They remain above champions Liverpool on goal difference after a result that should serve as a reality check.

Southampton have now only lost twice in 13 league matches and climbed within 3 points of first place.

An entertaining encounter got off to a fast start when Danny Ings picked out Ryan Bertrand and his pass found Nathan Redmond for a shot that whistled past the post.

Everton’s first serious threat came from Alex Iwobi as the former Arsenal winger forced a good stop from Alex McCarthy.

Gylfi Sigurdsson went even closer with a blistering 20-yard drive that cannoned off the crossbar with McCarthy grasping at thin air.

Jordan Pickford was in action for the first time since his ugly tackle on Virgil van Dijk left the Liverpool defender with a serious knee injury.

Pickford had been subjected to vicious abuse on social media, but Ancelotti refused to take the error-prone keeper out of the spotlight.

Pickford made a good save to deny Oriol Romeu’s blast, but the England international had no chance when Ward-Prowse put Southampton ahead in the 27th minute.

Ward-Prowse passed into Ings, who returned the ball to the midfielder, who took one touch before firing into the far corner for his first goal of the season.

Adams doubled Southampton’s lead eight minutes later when Ings’ rampaged past Ben Godfrey and Yerry Mina before lofting a cross to his strike partner, whose shot deflected off Sigurdsson on its way past Pickford.

Southampton were in complete control. Stuart Armstrong had a strike disallowed for offside just before half time.

Everton had never won a Premier League game when they trailed by two or more goals at half time.

The visitors were marginally better in the second half, but James Rodriguez wasn’t having his usual influence on Everton’s play and their attacking threat was neutered.

Ings almost made it three from Armstrong’s cross, but couldn’t make strong enough contact.

Everton’s last hope vanished in the 72nd minute when Digne was dismissed for his awkward foul on Walker-Peters.

Scottish Premiership

Meanwhile, in the Scottish league, Celtic manager Neil Lennon said referee Willie Collum had had a “very poor game” after the champions were denied victory by Lewis Ferguson’s added-on time penalty in a dramatic 3-3 draw at Aberdeen on Sunday.

Celtic, who came into the match on the back of successive defeats after a 2-0 loss to arch-rivals Rangers was followed by a 3-1 Europa League reverse against Serie A leaders AC Milan, twice came from behind only to be denied in stoppage time by the Dons.

A share of the spoils at Pittodrie left Lennon’s side 3 points behind leaders Rangers, who could go six clear if they beat Livingston later on Sunday.