Reigning champion Alexander Zverev will miss the upcoming ATP Finals. The German sprained his ankle against Rafael Nadal in the Roland Garros semi-final and has not played since, hoping to start again in 2023. Zverev has faced Novak Djokovic five times in 2021, beating the Serb twice.
Novak defeated Alexander at the Australian Open and US Open, while the youngster held off the world leader at the Olympics and ATP Finals. Zverev and Djokovic had a couple of memorable meetings, the most recent coming in the ATP Finals semi-final in November in Turin.
Zverev defeated Djokovic 7-6 4-6 6-3 after two and a half hours to advance to his second ATP Finals title match. Thus, he left Novak without the trophy in the ATP premium event for the sixth consecutive season. The German won eight points more than the Serb and played better behind the second serve to neutralize Novak’s impressive performance behind the first serve.
Both players avoided three of four break chances and fired a combined 29 aces to take advantage of the fast surface and stay even. Zverev kept his cool throughout the match, committing just one double fault and enduring exciting rallies to emerge on top.
Alexander had 35 winners and 24 unforced errors and outplayed Novak in the longest exchanges. In one of the crucial moments, Zverev fired a powerful serve to avoid a set chance at 4-5 in the first set. Novak faced two break points in the 11th game and eliminated them with two winners to stay in touch.
In the tie break, at 4-3, Alexander won a point at the net after a lucky net rope. He closed out the set with two winners at 5-4 after precisely an hour, gaining momentum and hoping for more in the rest of the match.
Djokovic is still very competitive
In light of this, Steve Flink recently spoke with David Bellinson on a podcast about Novak Djokovic’s semifinal match with Tsitsipas.
“Novak hadn’t lost a set all week, and he was on his winning streak too. He had won his last three tournaments, going back to Wimbledon and two in a row in the autumn. He didn’t lose a set coming into Tsitsipas and that was an interesting match because he won the first set really comfortably 6-2, then had a 0-30 opening at the start of the second set,” Flink said.
“Stefanos got out of that game, started waving his arms up with the crowd, he really played with the crowd and I don’t say that grudgingly, I think it was wise because he wanted to let the crowd react, to use a little boost there, ‘help me out’, and they did.
They really got behind him and Novak. You could see that he was a little bit jarred by that. He wasn’t angry, he just was a little more low-key, a little less confident,” he added.