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Preview: Alexander Zverev vs. Nicolas Jarry - prediction, head-to-head, tournament so far

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Italian Open final between Alexander Zverev and Nicolas Jarry, including predictions, head-to-head and their tournament so far.

A new king of Rome will be crowned on Sunday afternoon, as Germany's Alexander Zverev and Chile's Nicolas Jarry square off in the Italian Open men's singles final.

Both men had to come through gruelling semi-final three-setters to make it to the championship match, as Zverev dispatched Jarry's compatriot Alejandro Tabilo, while the South American got the job done against Tommy Paul.

Match preview

Alexander Zverev reacts at the Italian Open on May 17, 2024© Reuters

Taking a leaf out of the Carlos Alcaraz playbook, Zverev's semi-final foe Tabilo - who conquered Novak Djokovic en route to the final four - blew the third seed away in the first set, mixing up some ferocious forehands with an array of dainty drop shots that the German was powerless to defend against.

However, after a rejuvenated Zverev came up trumps in an engrossing second-set tie-breaker, the tide turned significantly, as Tabilo conceded a fatal break on a double fault in the third set before a Zverev ace - his 10th of the afternoon - sealed a 1-6 7-6[4] 6-2 triumph in two hours and 17 minutes.

None of Aleksandar Vukic, Luciano Darderi, Nuno Borges or Taylor Fritz managed to take Zverev to three sets before the German was pushed to the limit against Tabilo, but the third seed got his reward for digging incredibly deep on the clay, and an 11th Masters final now awaits.

The five-time ATP 1000 winner already has one Roman crown to his name from the 2017 edition, but his bid for back-to-back titles in 2018 ended with defeat to Rafael Nadal in the final, while he also lost his most recent Masters championship match in Madrid 2022.

However, both of the German's ATP Tour finals in 2023 ended in success in Hamburg and Chengdu, and since the Masters series commenced in 1990, no German man has reached as many showpiece matches at 1000 level; Boris Becker also advanced to an impressive 11.

Nicolas Jarry reacts at the Italian Open on May 17, 2024© Reuters

After Zverev's success eliminated the possibility of an all-Chilean Italian Open final, Tabilo's countryman Jarry engaged in his own pulsating three-setter with the USA's Tommy Paul, who pulled off an exquisite backhand passing shot that Jarry could only stand and applaud at one point.

However, it was the 21st seed who was soaking up the adulation from the Rome crowd come the end of their two-hour and 44-minute semi-final, in which he recovered from losing a second-set tie-breaker to prevail 6-3 6-7[3] 6-3 and advance to his inaugural Masters final.

Four match points came and went for Jarry against the gritty American, but a long forehand from Paul on the Chilean's fifth such opportunity closed out a mesmerising nighttime battle, in which he counteracted a plethora of unforced errors - 49 to be exact - with 13 aces and 33 winners.

Sunday's battle will mark Jarry's seventh top-level final, and all of his previous six have been on this surface for the clay aficionado, although he only boasts a 50% winning record from ATP Tour championship matches, triumphing in three and accepting the runners-up prize in three.

Jarry - whose career was put on pause by a doping ban in 2020 - actually won three straight finals in Chile, Geneva and Sweden from 2019 to 2023, but he fell short in February's Argentina Open showpiece and is no stranger to losing finals to Zverev either.

Tournament so far

Alexander Zverev:

First round: Bye
Second round: vs. Aleksandar Vukic 6-0 6-4
Third round: vs. Luciano Darderi 7-6[3] 6-2
Round of 16: vs. Nuno Borges 6-2 7-5
Quarter-final: vs. Taylor Fritz 6-4 6-3
Semi-final: vs. Alejandro Tabilo 1-6 7-6[4] 6-2

Nicolas Jarry:

First round: Bye
Second round: vs. Matteo Arnaldi 6-2 7-6[6]
Third round: vs. Stefano Napolitano 6-2 4-6 6-4
Round of 16: vs. Alexandre Muller 7-5 6-3
Quarter-final: vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas 3-6 7-5 6-4
Semi-final: vs. Tommy Paul 6-3 6-7[3] 6-3

Head To Head

China Open (2023) - Quarter-finals: Zverev wins 6-1 6-7[5] 6-3
Halle Open (2023) - Quarter-finals: Zverev wins 7-5 6-3
Geneva Open (2023) - Semi-finals: Jarry wins 7-6[3] 6-3
Hamburg European Open (2019) - First round: Zverev wins 6-4 6-2
Geneva Open (2019) - Final: Zverev wins 6-3 3-6 7-6[8]
Barcelona Open (2019) - Second round: Jarry wins 3-6 7-5 7-6[5]

Familiar foes either side of the Chilean's enforced suspension, Zverev and Jarry have already crossed paths six times on the ATP Tour, and it is the German who edges the current head-to-head tally with four successes compared to his opponent's two.

One of those four beatings came in the 2019 Geneva Open final, where Jarry forced a deciding set but missed two championship points as Zverev claimed the crown, although the world number 24 won the most recent meeting on clay in the same tournament last year.

However, Zverev has since defeated his South American foe on grass and hard courts, succeeding at the 2023 Halle Open and the 2023 China Open, both at the quarter-final stage.

SM words green background

We say: Zverev to win in three sets

Previous meetings between Zverev and Jarry have often served up a captivating contest, and Sunday's final ought to be no different given the latter's phenomenal strengths on clay and added incentive of avenging fallen countryman Tabilo.

The Chilean's propensity for unforced errors will always gift his opponents some cheap points, though, and such mistakes would almost certainly prove costly against a solid and resurgent Zverev, who is our pick to lift the Italian Open trophy aloft.

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