Could this be the week Alexander Zverev claims the lone clay-court ATP Masters 1000 title he is missing? Already a champion in Madrid and Rome, the German is now three wins from adding a Monte Carlo trophy to his collection.
Zverev defeated 13th seed Pablo Carreno Busta 6-2, 7-5 on Thursday to reach the quarter-finals of the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. The second seed will face fifth seed Andrey Rublev or ninth seed Jannik Sinner for a spot in the last four.
“For the second clay-court match of the season, I can’t complain too much,” Zverev said in his on-court interview. “Yes, I have lost focus a little bit in the second set, but at the end of the day, he’s somebody that can really play. I’m happy with a two-set win.”
Carreno Busta has proven a tough foe for Zverev in the past, particularly in the 2020 US Open semi-finals, when the Spaniard won the first two sets before the German was able to rally. But on the red clay, the five-time Masters 1000 champion had too much firepower in a one-hour, 36-minute victory.
Zverev struggled at times in his opening win against Federico Delbonis, but raised his level against Carreno Busta. The 24-year-old had the superior firepower, and was able to unleash powerful shots from neutral positions whereas his opponent struggled to put him on the back foot often.
“To win the biggest tournaments in the world, like Masters series, like Grand Slams, you have to be aggressive,” Zverev said. “I’m not going to win big titles just by pushing the ball.”
Zverev lost his serve immediately in the second set, but never panicked. He converted five of his 14 break points to reach the Monte Carlo quarter-finals for the second time in his sixth appearance. He is now 10-5 in the Principality.
The two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion was most pleased with his serving performance. Zverev won 79 per cent of his first-serve points compared to just 57 per cent for Carreno Busta.
“It’s great, because especially on a clay court, especially here where it’s a little bit slower I think than other clay courts that we play on, it is very important to get that confidence going on your serve,” Zverev said. “All around, it’s important to get these kinds of wins.”