Alexander Zverev believes world number one Novak Djokovic remains the favourite for the upcoming U.S. Open despite the German backing up his Olympic gold medal with victory in Cincinnati.

The German world number four defeated Andrey Rublev in straight sets on Sunday to win the Western and Southern Open, claiming his fourth title of the ATP season.

The 2021 U.S. Open begins next Monday with Dominic Thiem, who defeated Zverev in the 2020 final, withdrawing from the men's draw along with superstar Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

Their absences have opened up an opportunity for the in-form Zverev to have a run at the title but the German insisted Djokovic, who he defeated in the Olympic semi-finals, is the player to beat.

"I do think that he's still the favourite," Zverev told reporters after his win in Cincinnati.

"I do think he's going to be playing incredible tennis there. He's going to be fresh, and I think there is also other guys that are in very good form. I think Rublev is in very good form, [Daniil] Medvedev, [Stefanos] Tsitsipas, all those guys are playing great tennis.

"It's definitely going to be an interesting US Open. But I'm also looking forward to it, because I know where I stand, I know how I'm playing, and I hope I can continue the work and hopefully play even better in New York."

Djokovic has not played since Tokyo 2020, where he lost his bronze medal match to Pablo Carreno Busta after his semi-final defeat to Zverev.

The Serbian world number one opted to withdraw from the mixed doubles' semi-final afterwards, citing a left shoulder injury.

"I think Novak will be back. He's obviously going to be the favourite but I think other guys are going to be in great shape,” Zverev said.

"I'm looking forward to the week. Let's see how it goes. But there is still one week to go. I still have a lot of work ahead of me. I have to find my rhythm in New York, as well."

Zverev, who had never won a match in Cincinnati prior to this year's event, has not lost a match since his Wimbledon fourth-round exit to Felix Auger-Aliassime in July.

Alexander Zverev claimed his fourth title of 2021 with a 6-2 6-3 victory over Andrey Rublev to win the Western and Southern Open.

The Olympic champion had not won a match in Cincinnati prior to this year's tournament, but Sunday's one-sided final capped a remarkable turnaround for the world number five.

Zverev raced into a 4-0 lead before securing the opening set 6-2 as he produced no errors across the first seven games.

The third seed carried on his domination, breaking Rublev in his opening service game of the second set to pave the way for the 17th ATP title of his career within an hour in the showpiece.

After paying tribute to "his best friend on Tour" Rublev, Zverev added in his on-court interview: "It is incredible that tennis can be back, sport can be back, and we can watch and play this beautiful sport again.

"I normally do not look forward to this week - not winning a single match in seven years - but this has now become one of my favourite times of the year for me, hopefully it can be for the next 10 to 15 years."

The 24-year-old reached the final of the US Open last year, though he will now eye going one step further as the tournament commences at the end of August.

Andrey Rublev finally got the better of compatriot Daniil Medvedev after a flashpoint involving a courtside camera in the Western and Southern Open semi-finals.

Rublev will now face Alexander Zverev in the decider, having ended Medvedev's bid for a Toronto-Cincinnati double.

Medvedev had never even dropped a set to his fellow Russian in four prior ATP Tour meetings and appeared to be on course for another dominant victory when he took the first set.

But the world number two clattered into a camera early in the second and all momentum was soon lost.

Medvedev complained about the positioning of the camera, claiming it had caused a hand injury and aiming a kick at the lens.

He swiftly called for treatment as his performance started to fall well below his lofty standards, with Rublev finally able to win a set after breaking in an epic 15-minute game.

A series of unforced Medvedev errors allowed Rublev to break again in the decider and seal a stunning 2-6 6-3 6-3 triumph.

Third seed Zverev fought back from a double break down in the final set to progress to the final with a 6-4 3-6 7-6 (7-4) win over second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The epic match lasted two hours and 41 minutes, with Zverev responding strongly after appearing unwell to book his spot in the final against Rublev.

Rublev gets his Daniil degree

Asked to reflect on finally toppling Medvedev, Rublev told Amazon: "It's always tough to play against Daniil and to beat him.

"I think it gives me a bit more confidence that I can play against him, I can compete against him. There are still so many things to improve, but it's like I've passed university."

The victory came as a relief, with Rublev believing he was unfortunate even to be trailing in the first set.

"Inside I was thinking, when I was 6-2, the score shouldn't be like this," he said.

"The points were really tight, some little outs, little mistakes, some good shots from Daniil. The score was not real [in] the first set.

"Even the third set, I won 6-3 but the match was so intense. You saw so many rallies, so many long rallies, and it was so tough.

"It was a super mental match, a super physical match, exactly like a chess match."

Zverev's Novak mentality

Tokyo 2020 gold medalist Zverev had trailed 4-1 in the third set against Tsitsipas, but fought back with two breaks before winning in a tie-break.

"After I did the first break back I thought 'OK I have the chances'," Zverev said during his on-court interview. "I felt like he was not serving bombs. I felt like I was always in the rallies but I was losing the rallies because I was a bit low energy, so I started being a bit more aggressive, a bit of the Novak mentality that I had against him at the Olympics as well."

Zverev has a 4-0 record against final opponent Rublev but he was wary of his opponent.

"Favourite or not, I think if you're in the final, there's no easy opponent," he said. "Today he played incredible beating Medvedev."

Fifth seed Matteo Berrettini survived an early scare on his return from a thigh injury to progress in the second round of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati over Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Tuesday.

The Italian world number eight, making his ATP Tour return since losing the Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic in July, won 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 7-5.

The Spaniard claimed the first set in a tie-break but Berrettini hit back, sending down 25 aces for the match, winning 84 per cent on his first serve.

"I'm happy for the win. I think I served really well," Berrettini said. "My strokes from the baseline weren't working the way I wanted them to, but I knew from the beginning it's been a long time since I played a match, especially on hard, so I expected to feel a little bit weird."

The match extended to two hours and 20 minutes, with the Italian utilizing his backhand slice in the final set to get the edge.

Berrettini, who has a 33-7 record for the season, will face 12th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime or Karen Khachanov in the third round.

"I'm really happy that I'm going to have the chance to play another match because that's what I need," Berrettini said. "I need to play matches. I need to get in the best shape possible."

Canadian sixth seed Denis Shapovalov suffered a shock early upset, going down to France's Benoit Paire 6-3 4-6 7-5 in the Round of 64.

Former US Open, Wimbledon and Australian Open semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov toppled 13th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 21 minutes.

Fellow seed Cristian Garin also bowed out, losing 4-6 6-3 6-4 to qualifier Tommy Paul, while ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-1 6-7 (3-7) 6-1.

Marin Cilic, John Isner, Sebastian Korda, Gael Monfils, Reilly Opelka, Lorenzo Sonego and Frances Tiafoe were the other Tuesday winners.

Isner sent down his 13,000th career ace in his three-set win over Briton Cam Norrie.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has indicated he will only get the COVID-19 vaccine if it becomes mandatory to participate on the ATP Tour.

World number three Tsitsipas revealed he has not yet been jabbed against coronavirus with the tennis world divided on the issue. 

The ATP Tour have publicly encouraged players to get vaccinated, but Novak Djokovic is among the high-profile players to have stated it should not be compulsory to compete.

When asked ahead of the Western and Southern Open if he would get the vaccine, Tsitsipas told a media conference he still had reservations.

"No one has told me anything. No one has made it a mandatory thing to be vaccinated," the Greek said.

"At some point I may have to, I'm pretty sure about it, but so far it hasn't been mandatory to compete, so I haven't done it, no."

Tsitsipas received a bye through to the second round in Cincinnati, where he will play either Sebastian Korda or Laslo Dere.

The 23-year-old, who has a tour-high 45 wins this season, climbed up to third in the world rankings last week and boldly targeted overhauling Djokovic in top spot.

"The rankings are there for a reason. They signify something important," he added.

"I think that the very next step would be the number one spot, which I hope I can get to one day.”

Andy Murray looked sharp in his first singles match since Wimbledon, rolling to a straight-sets win over Richard Gasquet at the Western and Southern Open. 

Murray defeated the veteran Frenchman 6-4 6-4 on a rainy opening day in Cincinnati, capitalising on a strong service game to advance. 

Murray had 14 aces to just two double faults and won 81 per cent of points on his first serve while saving four of the five break points he faced. 

A two-time champion at the ATP 1000 event, he will face the winner of Tuesday's match between Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz in the second round. 

Two players who shared a birthday Monday also prevailed on their big day. 

On the day he turned 20, 11th seed Jannik Sinner defeated Federico Delbonis 6-2 7-5, while 10th seed Diego Schwartzman had to work a bit harder on his 28th birthday to down Daneil Evans 6-2 4-6 6-3. 

Elsewhere, 12th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime beat Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (7-0) 6-3, while 14th seed Alex de Minaur rallied to down Filip Krajinovic 0-6 6-4 6-4. 

Fifteenth seed David Goffin fell 6-3 6-3 to Guido Pella in the only seeded upset of the day. 

Other winners Monday included Karen Khachanov, Fabio Fognini, Lloyd Harris, Dominik Koepfer, Benoit Paire, Albert Ramos Vinolas and Mackenzie McDonald. 

Among those set to play their opening matches Tuesday are third seed Alexander Zverev, who will face Harris, and sixth seed Denis Shapovalov, who plays Paire. 

Daniil Medvedev lived up to his top-seed billing by overcoming Reilly Opelka in straight sets in the National Bank Open final.

World number two Medvedev prevailed 6-4 6-3 in Toronto on Sunday as he became the first Russian to win the ATP tournament since Marat Safin in 2000.

Medvedev now holds four of the nine ATP Masters 1000 titles, having also previously come out on top in Cincinnati, Shanghai and Paris.

He saved all four break points faced against unseeded Opelka, who stunned Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals, and needed just 85 minutes to complete the job.

Reflecting on his latest tour triumph, Medvedev said: "I could not have dreamt of this at one point.

"With Novak [Djokovic] and Rafael [Nadal] playing, it seemed like an untouchable achievement. Now I have four wins in five finals, which is a good score. I am just happy. 

"Playing Canada and Cincinnati, the goal is to win as many matches as possible. I was able to do it two years ago and I will try and do it again."

Opelka was competing in his maiden final at this level and started strongly, racing 40-0 ahead in the fourth game with some powerful hitting.

However, the 23-year-old – the first American to reach the final since Mardy Fish in 2011 – could not break his opponent as Medvedev recovered with some impressive serving to take the game.

Medvedev earned the first break in the following game and comfortably held to take the first set.

The Russian forced Opelka into errors in the second set and reeled off nine points in a row en route to breaking his opponent in the third game.

It was plain sailing from that point on as two-time beaten grand slam finalist Medvedev eased over the line to add another trophy to his collection.

Top seed Daniil Medvedev will face Reilly Opelka in the National Bank Open final after the American stunned Stefanos Tsitsipas in a three-set classic in Saturday's semi-finals.

World number 32 Opelka fought back from a set down in Toronto to knock out favoured third seed Tsitsipas in two hours and 32 minutes.

The 23-year-old American triumphed 6-7 (2-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-4, booking a spot in his first ATP Masters 1000 final.

Opelka sent down 17 aces but also hit 27 groundstroke winners in the shock victory over 2021 Australian Open semi-finalist Tsitsipas who had beaten in-form Casper Ruud in the quarters.

"I played great," Opelka said in his on-court interview. “These courts suit my game, it is no coincidence that John Isner is in the other semi-final.

"Stefanos has definitely improved his returning. Come 5-5 in the first set, a lot of balls started to come back. He is a thinker and has a high tennis IQ, so it was expected, but that is what separates him from the rest of the pack."

Opelka was aided by an excellent first serve percentage of 72 per cent, winning 62 of 81 points when he made his first serve.

Both first two sets went to tiebreaks, with Tsitsipas failing to generate a break point until the third set. Opelka made the first break of the match in the seventh game of the third set and held serve twice after to seal victory.

World number two Medvedev cruised into the decider with a commanding win over John Isner in less than an hour.

Medvedev, who was runner-up in Toronto in 2019, won 6-2 6-2 over the big-serving American, with the match totaling 54 minutes.

Isner could only manage four trademark aces for the match, while the Russian had 11 and broke the American four times from seven opportunities.

Daniil Medvedev avenged a Wimbledon loss to Hubert Hurkacz in a three-set thriller while Stefanos Tsitsipas made impressively light work of the in-form Casper Ruud at the National Bank Open.

Top seed and world number two Medvedev appeared headed for another defeat to Hurkacz before fighting back to prevail 2-6 7-6 (8-6) 7-6 (7-5) and reach the semi-finals.

The Pole won a five-setter at Wimbledon in the pair's only previous meeting before going on to stun Roger Federer and reach the semis, but could not repeat his feat in Toronto. 

Though Medvedev failed to convert the only two break point opportunities he had, his work in the tiebreaks was enough to put him over the top as he served 23 aces to nine for Hurkacz. 

The Russian now faces a semi-final matchup against John Isner, who won a clash of veterans with 11th seed Gael Monfils 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

Earlier Friday, Tsitsipas claimed a 6-1 6-4 victory over Ruud, who entered the clash having won each of his previous 13 matches. 

It was Tsitsipas' 45th win of the season, a figure unmatched by anyone else on the ATP tour, and he needed just 74 minutes to complete it.

The 23-year-old won each of the first five games of the match and only made four unforced errors in the opening set.

Although Norway's Ruud improved in the second, he failed to make the most of a rare break opportunity and that seemed to jolt Tsitsipas into life again, the Greek swiftly breaking and then serving out the match.

"It is very nice to see myself perform at this level," Tsitsipas said afterwards. "I was sticking close to the baseline and coming in, taking the ball early. It was my intention from the very beginning, and it worked perfectly.

"Playing against a guy like him, who gets every single ball back, is always very challenging. There is some sort of concentration levels you have to reach to perform to your best. These kinds of matches always teach me things that I can expose for next time."

Up next for Tsitsipas as he targets a place in the final is Reilly Opelka, the big-serving American who defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3 7-6 (7-1), plundering 18 aces along the way.

Casper Ruud continued his excellent winning streak while Stefanos Tsitsipas made it a birthday to remember at the National Bank Open in Toronto.

Tsitsipas turned 23 on Thursday and marked the occasion with a 6-3 6-2 win over Karen Khachanov.

The Greek star was presented with a cake by tournament officials after his win, as the crowd serenaded him with a chant of 'happy birthday'.

It marks a significant improvement on when Tsitsipas turned 20. On that occasion, he lost the 2018 final of this event to Rafael Nadal.

Next up for Tsitsipas is Casper Ruud, who poked fun at his critics after he eased into the quarter-finals.

Ruud, the world number 12, won three titles on clay courts in July and has now continued that form in the ATP Masters 1000 event.

Playing on a hard court has proved no challenge for the in-form Norwegian, who wrote 'Hard Courts' with a smile underneath on the camera after his 6-4 6-3 victory over Dusan Lajovic on Thursday.

"I have seen a lot of people questioning my ability to play on hard court, so I just thought it was funny to write a little note," Ruud said in a news conference.

"I think it's fun to play on hard courts. Even though I (have achieved) most of my best results on clay, my best slam result is from this year’s Australian Open (where he reached the Round of 16), so I think it's a surface that also can suit my game well even though this year has been mainly clay.

“I think I'm motivated to come back to the hard courts. I have had two very good matches here. It's a great start for me to the hard-court swing."

Ruud, in the hunt for his fifth title of 2021, has won the only previous meeting between the duo.

"[I am] looking forward to that battle," Tsitsipas said. "We have played each other in the past. Not an easy guy to play against. Looking for a change, looking for a switch-up this time."

However, there was no place in the last eight for world number seven - and Olympic gold medallist - Andrey Rublev, who went down 7-5 7-6 (7-5) to American John Isner.

Fresh from a triumph in Atlanta, 36-year-old Isner has looked sharp all week and has now won eight successive matches.

It brings up a third quarter-final appearance for the world number 30 in Canada, and he will play French 11th seed Gael Monfils after he got past lucky loser Francis Tiafoe 6-1 7-6 (7-2). Monfils will be competing in his first ATP Tour quarter-final in 18 months.

Top seed Daniil Medvedev proved too good for Australian qualifier James Duckworth, winning 6-2 6-4 in one hour and eight minutes.

Medvedev was in ominous form on the hard court, sending down 10-1 aces and winning 27 of 32 points on his first serve.

The Russian world number two will play seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz who fought back to win 6-7 (7-9) 6-4 6-4 over Nicolas Basilashvili.

Eighth seed Diego Schwartzman lost in three sets to 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut after the Spaniard saved three match points.

Bautista Agut will next play Reilly Opelka who came from behind, and also saved a match point, to win over Lloyd Harris in three.

Canadian fifth seed Denis Shapovalov was a major casualty in the second round of the National Bank Open in Toronto after a straight-sets defeat to Francis Tiafoe.

Unseeded American Tiafoe swept aside the local 6-1 6-4 in one hour and 15 minutes to secure his third-round spot against 11th seed Gael Monfils who beat John Millman 3-6 6-3 6-4.

Tiafoe was only in the Toronto main draw as a lucky loser after being defeated in qualifying by Emil Ruusuvuori but he hit 14 winners in an emphatic display.

World number 10 Shapovalov was unable to generate any break points while Tiafoe reeled off five games in a row, with two breaks, to win the first set.

The Canadian continued to struggle with his serve in windy conditions, as the American world number 52 won 88 per cent (23/26) of points on his first serve.

Another local hope, ninth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, also was eliminated, going down 7-5 6-4 to Serbian Dusan Lajovic.

The Canadian hit six aces to Lajovic's none, but was undone by unforced errors at key times, with a double fault gifting the Serbian a 6-5 lead in the opening set.

Australian 12th seed Alex de Minaur also bowed out after a one-sided 6-1 6-1 defeat to Georgian world number 42 Nicolas Basilashvili.

Basilashvili sent down 6-2 aces and converted five of his six break points generated in an impressive display.

Australian qualifier Jack Duckworth booked a third-round ticket against top seed Daniil Medvedev after upsetting 16th seed Jannik Sinner, who won last week's Citi Open.

Fourth seed Andrey Rublev won through with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 victory over Fabio Fognini, while seventh seed Hubert Hurkacz progressed with a walkover after Kei Nishikori retired with a shoulder injury.

Eighth seed Diego Schwartzman beat Benoit Paire 7-5 6-1, while 10th seed Roberto Bautista Agut handled Tommy Paul 6-3 6-4.

John Isner knocked out 13th seed Cristian Garin in three sets, while Lloyd Harris beat Feliciano Lopez in two and Karen Khachanov defeated compatriot Aslan Karatsev 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 to secure a third-round meeting with third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas pledged to help those affected by the fires in his homeland in his post-match press conference on Tuesday.

“My heart is with all the people of Greece,” Tsitsipas said. “I come from the south suburbs of Athens. When I was there a few days ago, I could see the fires from the south. Huge, giant clouds, smoke, which you could see from far, far away. It wasn't very nice. Even at the beach that day when I went to swim, you could see all the debris from the smoke and from the fires in the sea.”

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