ATP Finals 2021, Turin, Italy: Novak Djokovic struggles again in the closing stage of the tournament. A sublime journey till now for World No. 1 comes to an end from a high-quality performance by Alexander Zverev, 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-3.
The German was up to the task of defusing Djokovic as successfully done in the 2018 finale championship match. Nearly two and a half hours of play was needed to decide the finalist.
The 24-year-old engaged with the fans inside the Pala Alpitour and hit 35 winners to reduce his ATP Head2Head series deficit to 4-7 against the World No. 1.
“Every time we play it takes hours,” Zverev said in his on-court interview. “I have not spent more time on the court with anybody other than him this year. I am happy with the win and happy to be in the final here and to give myself the best chance for tomorrow.”
Alexander Zverev had a close call in the qualification for the semifinals with a loss against Daniil Medvedev in the Red Group round-robin. The German will be ready to repeat the 2018 history to reverse the win in the finale over a loss to the player in the round-robin.
“I lost 8/6 in the third in the group stage, so I am just looking forward to the match as I think it will be a great one,” Zverev said. “There is only the best here, so it takes a lot to win this tournament.
“I am looking forward to having another chance and we are in the final and I am happy to be in the final. He is one of the best players in the world right now, so It is going to be a difficult match no matter what.”
The first set was a tight affair with both players serving their best. Novak was the first to earn a set point which was saved by the German at 4-5, 30/40. Then the pressure was mounted on Novak to not get broken. He too dislodged two breakpoints in the next game.
The set then moved to the tiebreaker in which Zverev with increased concentration and engaging more power snatched the set to move with an advantage.
The serving was of very high quality with both players winning 80% of their first-serve points in the second set too. Fearing a straight-set defeat, the Serbian stepped upon his name to break the German. World No. 3 resisted with power but it wasn’t enough to stop Novak from leveling the match.
The third set seemed odd with the German getting an early break to lead 3-1. He then held his service game with some clinical play. Saving himself from breakpoints in the following game to increase his advantage. The Serbian could not answer the 14 aces Zverev hit in the match. The German finished the game with an ace.
Djokovic was aiming to draw level with Roger Federer and capture his record-equalling sixth Nitto ATP Finals title in Turin. The 34-year-old, who last triumphed at the season finale in 2015, arrived in Turin in form after lifting his 37th Masters 1000 trophy in Paris earlier this month.
Novak Djokovic: “Of course we want to win against each other, but there is that respect and appreciation for each other that is more important than winning or losing. That’s something that I always had with Sascha. I really appreciate that,” Djokovic said. “I wish him all the best. He’s a great guy, a fantastic tennis player, I’m sure soon to be a Grand Slam champion.”
“Sascha is also a friend off the court. We get along very well. Not easy to be very close obviously when you’re rivals, playing that much against each other on the biggest stage,” Djokovic said. “But we talk a lot about life, about a lot of different things. I’m always happy to share some of my experiences with him. We’ve always had a wonderful relationship.”
“He’s one of the best servers in the world… He showed tonight why that is a fact. He got himself out of trouble a few times with [his] serve,” Djokovic said. “I was serving pretty good, as well. I just had the one very bad game in the third set. Three forehands, one backhand unforced error, really from pretty easy positions. [I] just really wasted the match in that game. Even though I thought it was quite even, had some chances to come back, 2-4 down in the third, just missed again, a forehand long.
“[It was a] tough match. But I enjoyed it. I thought it was a really good battle, really high-quality tennis. We pushed each other, as we always do.”
“I could have gone for another few hours, no problem. It was just a bad game, 2-1 down in the third set, a very bad game, four unforced errors,” Djokovic said. “In the conditions like this where you have one of the biggest servers in the game, it’s just difficult to come back from that. That’s all it is.”
“It was a great season, no doubt. I did not play many tournaments, but still managed to end the year at No. 1 for the seventh time, broke records for the year-end No. 1, historic No. 1, won three out of [the] four Slams,” Djokovic said. “The year was phenomenal. Maybe could have done better in some other ATP events. But all in all really good ending of the season as well with a title in Paris and semi-finals here.”