Alexander Zverev suffers blow to ATP Finals hopes after first round exit at Basel

Alexander Zverev frustrated

Alexander Zverev’s hopes of being able to defend his ATP Finals crown next month suffered a blow as he lost in the first round in Basel.

The second seed struggled against an inspired Taylor Fritz before sinking to a frustrating 7-6 (8-6), 6-4 defeat that leaves him vulnerable in the race to London.

Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas had to work hard to avoid a similar upset, the 21-year-old battling to a 6-3 7-6 (6) victory in the evening session against Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Moldova’s Radu Albot recovered from losing the opening set to beat Dusan Lajovic 2-6 6-3 6-4 and secure a second-round clash with top seed and nine-time champion Roger Federer.

Fifth-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini enjoyed a comfortable 6-2 6-4 win over Australia’s Alexei Popyrin, while American Reilly Opelka came out on top in two tie-breaks in a serving duel with Chilean Cristian Garin.

Opelka saved two set points in the second tie-break, finishing the contest with 27 aces and winning 98 per cent of points on his first serve.

Austrian Dominic Thiem started one of his favourite weeks of the season with a first win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, beating the Frenchman 6-4 7-6 (2) to reach the second round of the Erste Bank Open in Vienna.

Thiem will next face Fernando Verdasco, who beat Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili 4-6 6-2 6-1, while South Korea’s Hyeon Chung overcame Milos Raonic 6-4 7-5.

Elsewhere, France’s Gilles Simon knocked out 2004 champion Feliciano Lopez 6-4 6-3 to set up a clash against Aljaz Bedene, who struck 14 aces and won 28 of 29 first-service points in a 6-4 6-4 win over seventh seed Guido Pella of Argentina.

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