Two items will likely forever adorn Alexander Zverev's 2021 summer. The first is fairly obvious: the Olympic gold medal he won a few weeks ago in Tokyo.
The second arrived Sunday, placed in the 6-foot-6 German's capable hands as the sun began to set in Mason, Ohio.
Zverev hoisted the Rookwood Cup high overhead on Center Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, moments after a 6-2, 6-3 win over Andrey Rublev in the Western & Southern Open final.
With the win, Zverev becomes the first player to win the Olympic gold medal and the W&S Open title in the same year since Andre Agassi in 1996.
How was Zverev able to back up his Olympic gold with a title in Cincinnati?
"I went back to work. I went back to practice in Monaco," he said. "I was preparing for this tournament. I'm very happy to have this trophy now."
Playing against his childhood friend and junior doubles partner, Zverev, the No. 3 seed, started the first set and the second set the same way, with a break of Rublev's serve.
"Breaking him in the beginning, that did help for me because the match kind of went my way after that," Zverev said. "And, yeah, I mean, look, he's an incredible player. Once he gets into a rhythm, once he gets into a match, he's extremely difficult to beat because he has the shots to beat anyone. He showed that yesterday. So I knew that I had to -- once I was up and ahead, I needed to kind of keep pressing and keep going forward, and I did that well today."
The match looked effortless for Zverev, who exhibited a master class in how to control a tennis ball – painting lines, cutting off the court, and even an occasional drop shot for good measure, all kept the fans engaged despite the lopsided score. It took just 58 minutes for Zverev to get the job done.
The W&S Open title is Zverev's fifth ATP Masters 1000 title, moving him into a tie for the ninth-most titles since the series began in 1990. Zverev's the first German player to win the W&S Open since Boris Becker in 1985.
Now, Zverev turns his attention to the last big tournament of the season, the U.S. Open.
"The U.S. Open is a week that everybody is looking forward to," Zverev said. "I think Novak (Djokovic) will be back. He's obviously going to be the favorite, as well. But I think other guys are going to be in great shape. 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."