Photo: Francesco PanunzioAlexander Zverev (GER)
Germany’s Alexander Zverev broke Italian hearts at the 54th Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan on
Friday by playing a match which defied his tender years to knock out local hope Stefano Napolitano and earn a place in his first Grade A semi-final.
Zverev, who only turned 16 last month, is the younger brother of ATP player Mischa
Zverev and is fast emerging from his sibling’s shadow. There was no indication in his 62 64 defeat of 18-year-old Napolitano that being the youngest player left in the boys’ singles draw was likely to hold Zverev back.
Should he win the title, Zverev would be the youngest boy in the history of the tournament to win the prestigious Trofeo Bonfiglio (also known as the Italian Open) and he would succeed Gianluigi Quinzi (ITA), who won it last year aged 16 and 117 days. Before he can dream of joining an honour roll that includes previous winners Nicolas Almagro, Goran Ivanisevic, Jim Courier and Ivan Lendl, though, Zverev must first reach the final.
To do that he will have to defeat Guillermo Nunez of Chile, who progressed to the last four without playing a point after top seed Nikola Milojevic (SRB) retired ahead of their quarter-final with a sprained left ankle. In the other boys’ semi-final on Saturday, third seed Laslo Djere (SRB) will face in-form Frenchman Maxime Hamou after both notched up tidy wins - Djere a 62 61 rout of France’s Enzo Couaucaud and Hamou a tighter 63 76 win over Nicolas Jarry of Chile.
Organisers were handed a headache when rain disrupted much of Friday’s play and players were forced to wait our the bad weather at the Tennis Club Milano Alberto Bonacossa until 4pm, when conditions were finally playable. The rain hit the girls’ draw hardest and meant that only two of the day’s four scheduled quarterfinals were completed.
Second seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland had to battle hard to overcome Veronika Kudermetova and notch up a 36 64 63 win. Her reward is a semi-final meeting on Saturday with another Russian, Elizaveta Kulichova. Kulichova, seeded 11th, overcame Maria Marfutina (RUS) 64 67(7) 62 in another gruelling encounter.
tI was a late finish for the girls on the other side of the draw. Great Britain’s Katy Dunne came off court late in the evening, but at least she had the satisfaction of a comeback 26 64 64 win over Helena Ploskina (UKR). The 11th seed still had the energy to post a message on Twitter after her three-set victory, tweeting: “OMG just got off court. I won from a set and 3-0 down and then 3-1 down in the 3rd! #InPureShock.”
Dunne will now take on Darya Kasatkina (RUS) in the semifinals after the Russian knocked out Karin Kennel (SUI) 76 63 in another late night match.
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