Zverev Stuns Djokovic In ATP Finals Title Match, Earns Biggest Win Of Career
by Staff | November 18th, 2018, 10:17 pm
  • 41 Comments

Alexander Zverev earned the biggest win of his young career beating the heavily-favored Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 in the title match at the ATP Finals in London on Sunday.

“This is the biggest title of my career so far. This trophy means a lot, everything, to all the players. I mean, you only have so many chances of winning it. You play against the best players only,” Zverev said after his 10th title. “How I played today, how I won it, for me it’s just amazing.”

The 21-year-old Zverev had lost to Djokovic earlier in the week, showed no signs of awe against the World No. 1. And there was no letdown after beating Roger Federer yesterday. The German he 20 winners while Djokovic registered just seven.

In fact, it was Djokovic who looked flat and fatigued. The Serb hadn’t dropped serve all week, holding 36 straight times until today when he was broken four times, including twice to start the second set.

“I wasn’t trying to overthink it. I just tried to go out there and enjoy the match as much as I can, enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the moment. That’s what I did,” Zverev added. “My serve has been working well the whole week. I had a lot of confidence in it. It all worked out well.”

Djokovic, who was trying to equal Federer’s six ATP Finals crowns, was trying to put a cap on an incredible last six months on tour.

DJOKOVIC: ‘IT WAS A PHENOMENAL SEASON’
Djokovic
Novak Djokovic falls short of tying Roger Federer’s record of six Nitto ATP Finals titles. © Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Novak Djokovic crashed to a low point this June after spending months struggling in his recovery from a right elbow injury, falling to his lowest ATP Ranking, No. 22, in more than 11 years. Just five months later, the Serbian is back at World No. 1. And en route to the championship match at the Nitto ATP Finals, Djokovic dominated, winning all 36 of his service games.

But Djokovic simply fell short in the final, losing against Alexander Zverev, who is the youngest champion at the season finale since a 21-year-old Djokovic in 2008.

“Finishing the year as No. 1 [in the ATP Rankings], that was the goal coming into the indoor season. I managed to achieve that,” Djokovic said. “Overall it was a phenomenal season that I have to be definitely very proud of.”

A 6-6 start to 2018 seems like a distant memory now, as Djokovic, who was trying to become the oldest winner in tournament history (since 1970) won 35 of his final 38 matches on the year to reassert himself as the best player in the world. The Serbian might not have tied Roger Federer’s record of six Nitto ATP Finals triumphs, but he has clearly announced that he is back in peak form.

One might never have imagined Djokovic being in this position after the Australian Open, when he underwent a procedure on his right elbow. But the 31-year-old did.

“Yes, because I always believe in myself. Really, as I said before many times, I kind of also expect myself to do very well,” Djokovic said. “But at the same time I would sign it right away if someone told me because at that time it was also looking quite improbable that that’s going to happen considering where I was [ATP] ranking-wise and also game-wise. I wasn’t playing even close to where I wanted to be at in terms of level of tennis.”

Entering the final at The O2, Djokovic won 14 consecutive matches against opponents inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings, dropping just six sets in those clashes. So while he could not complete the perfect ending to a fairytale season, this is just a small bump, and not a cause for concern in the grand scheme of things. He still reached his sixth consecutive championship match (did not play in 2017) at the Nitto ATP Finals, after all.

“Obviously no one likes to lose a tennis match. You try your best. But at the same time, as I said on the court, you put things in a larger perspective, see things a bit differently,” Djokovic said. “When you get out of this feeling of a little bit disappointment that you lost, all the positive things that I have to reflect on and also take from this season, especially the last six months.

“Finishing the year as No. 1, that was the goal coming into the indoor season. I managed to achieve that,” Djokovic said. “Overall it was a phenomenal season that I have to be definitely very proud of.

With his win, Zverev becomes the first player to beat both Federer and Djokovic in the same ATP Finals events, and the first to beat the Top 2 seeds in the semis and final of the event since Andre Agassi in 1990.

“It’s quite astonishing, winning this title, beating two such players back-to-back, Roger and Novak, in semi-finals and final,” Zverev said. “It means so much. I’m incredibly happy and incredibly proud of this moment right now.”

A day after being booed, Zverev stands as the last man to win a match on the 2018 ATP Tour season.

“[Djokovic and Federer] are still going to be the guys to beat at the big tournaments,” said Zverev. “ I will do everything I can to get better, to compete with them always. I feel like I’m doing that. But I still have a lot of things to improve. I’m still very young. Hopefully, next year, I’ll be able to play better tennis than I did this year, even though it’s been a good year.”


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41 Comments for Zverev Stuns Djokovic In ATP Finals Title Match, Earns Biggest Win Of Career

Humble Rafa Says:

To think that Baby Alex and I are separated by 11 years, I have to ask..does he still wear dia pers?


Humble Rafa Says:

His Arrogance was already a professional tennis player when Baby Alex was born. Oh my lord!


Margot Says:

Nole has been beaten 3 times, by Stefanos, KK and now Sascha. Discuss.


J-Kath Says:

The first thought that strikes me, Margot, is: Is it unusual for
top players, e.g. Nole, Rafa, Roger (and Andy when he’s fit) to lose occasionally during successful years? I think you can lose
occasionally and still have a stunning year.


Margot Says:

Kath: I think Nole has had a stunning year, I’m not questioning that. What I am asking is the significance or otherwise of him being beaten by three much younger, confident, strong next genners, rather than the usual suspects.


J-Kath Says:

Margot: Nole missed half a year re. injury – probably needed a few matches to recover his “mojo” i.e. normal level of playing – I can’t remember when he met Stefanos and KK – but assume he was still working on his come-back. As for Sasha – Nole was nowhere near the out-of-this-world level he played against Anderson.

As it was 3 younger players who advanced and not the usual suspects – they had to be the best players on the day? or, Rafa, Andy, Stan, Del Potro & others were missing and singly or collectively influenced the draw and the outcome.

Is it significant? The fact it’s being asked means “Yes” or means “Possibly”. Perhaps the first Grand Slam of 2019 will
reveal more. A little more time and we’ll find out.


lylenubbins Says:

Good for AZ but it kind of underscores his underachievement at the majors.


AndyMira Says:

M….Maybe Nole still did not play much with all of them…therefore he still not used to their game style & such…He’s been out injured & this young guys make such a big improvement with their game in his absence…They also r fearless & very confident…

But one thing for sure,all of them have to play the matches of their life & be ready to play at a high level consistently for 2,3 hrs to beat not only Nole..but The Big 3 as well…

But last nite Nole too didn’t play his best for some reason…


Remcom Says:

I would love to know what Lendl has been telling Zverev for this breakthrough win, or rather, breakthrough wins if you count the semifinal vs. Federer.

The Czech worked wonders with Murray – and now the German kid?


RZ Says:

What a tournament for Zverev! Saw somewhere on Twitter that he is only the 4th guy to beat both Fed and Djoker in the semis and finals of a tournament. (Murray at 2012 Olympics, Rafa a few times, and Nalbandian back in 2007).


Margot Says:

AM and Kath: I think Nole is a shoe in for the AO. He loves it and will be nicely rested after the longish break. But after that.. if Rafa is fit then of course RG is his to lose. But Thiem is coming up on the outside lane and Sascha has proved good on clay so…. Wimbledon? Well, Sascha and KK are big, big servers, they usually do well there but Tsitispas moves like a dream, can he move on grass? Will Fed make a last charge? Will Andy make a come back? Who can tell? The USOpen is the most open and I can’t possibly make any kind of guess.
Kath: losses have come since Wimbledon.


Fionski Says:

Djokovic has a losing record against two of the next gen players. And he has now been thrashed by another two next gen players. There is no guarantee that he can win the AO.


SG1 Says:

Novak’s kryptonite are guys like Wawa and now Zverev who can belt the ball from both wings and move well. Your pretty much have to be playing out of your mind to beat Novak when’s he playing well and yesterday Zverev did just that. He hit bigger, was more tactically aggressive and served huge. Quite a few serves into the low 140′s and very well placed. It’s not easy to play the way Zverev did over the long haul but for a couple of sets, he took Novak out of his comfort zone.

Sooner or later, Zverev will get the slams figured out. I’m betting sooner rather than later.


SG1 Says:

The AO is an endurance test and Novak’s pretty much the fittest guy out there. If any of the next gen players are going to beat him, they’ll have to survive the heat of the first week and there’s no guarantee of that. Novak survived the US Open heat better than anyone else.

The AO also plays slow with a pretty high bounce for a hard courts. I don’t like anyone’s chances against Novak at the AO if he’s healthy. 3 out of 5 on that surface? Very tough.

It will be a tall task for any of the next gen players to beat him in Australia. Roger’s won the last couple of AO’s. Wonder if he’ll work with Ljuby to add some new wrinkles. He also needs to get his forehand back if he hopes to challenge Novak. It’s been a little off for a while.


AndyMira Says:

M!…I think so too!…Bout Nole win AO i meant…

Let’s see whether can change his bad luck at slam next year…He never passed 4th rd in slams..only this year reached QF at FO,right?So,it’s very interesting to follow their progress next year M!…Hopefully Andy will found winning way too!

As for Rafa,let’s see how much he recovered from his knees injury..or whether he can participate in any warm up event leading to AO…We can judge his health from that…I’m very anxious to know that for sure!


AndyMira Says:

Heh heh…i meant whether ‘Sascha’ can change his bad luck etc etc….


Van Persie Says:

“Nole has been beaten 3 times, by Stefanos, KK and now Sascha. Discuss.”

They 3 have replaced the Federer and Stan from 2015, but Fed and Stan were much better as they challenged Nole in slams as well.


Van Persie Says:

And am note sure one of them can be next year the constant and amazing Andy from 2016


skeezer Says:

This goes to show if you can play the bludgeon game, consistently during a match or tourney, you’ll beat Novak, Fed, Andy, Rafa, and anyone else. I did not see the Stefanos match, but both the KK and Sascha match Novak was overpowered. There was an argument that Novak was gassed, really? Twice? He should have been in better shape.
Same thing happens to Fed throughout his career. If his opponent was a big guy with a Thor Hammer Swing and he can do it consistently, he loses.
The question is, can these types do it consistently through a period of time. a season, a year, etc.
We have not seen that guy, yet.


Django Says:

This trio will win everything in 2020.


Giles Says:

Lol “ shoe in for the AO”. I don’t think so.


Giles Says:

I feel this Sascha win is only going to spur the other youngsters on to improve further. They must be so envious that he was able to pull off this unbelievable win, beating fed on the way. I do hope they step up.


J-Kath Says:

Gosh Margot: You got the “Discuss” going (hope I helped).
I love Van Persie’s comment at 2.08pm – (“the constant and amazing Andy”)- wonder why? grin, grin. In fact enjoyed many comments A-M; Skeezer; SG1.


Czarlazar Says:

Zverev won the year end title this year, which is about as significant as Dimitrov winning it last year. When he demonstrates grit in the majors, I’ll start acknowledging his ability to stand with the greats. Unless he’s injured again, Nole likely contends in every Slam next year, and probably bags one or two. As for the next gen, the jury is still out. As they say in Missouri, “Show me.”


Humble Rafa Says:

Can Baby Alex be Baby Humble. He apologized for something he didn’t do. That’s noble. He just beat the Arrogant One. All looking good for now. I will be careful choose.

I fell for Timmy boy and learnt by lesson.


Margot Says:

Kath: Result ;) Speculation is free and fun.
As for the “Amazing and constant Andy of 2016″ doubt if he’s coming back any time soon.
Happy to be wrong.


Van Persie Says:

Haha J-K, he “stole” some weeks as Nr. 1 from Nole :D

Who knows, maybe Andy will be Nr 1 in 2020, and wins a Golden Medal again
Time will tell.
Am off now


Wog Boy Says:

Czarlazar,
Very strange match indeed, not the first strange final Nole lost.


Humble Rafa Says:

Who knows, maybe Andy will be Nr 1 in 2020

WTF? Even dreams have limits, lady.


AndyMira Says:

HR still not learned any lesson re.Andy it seems…I think it’s not ‘very smart’ to count him out don’t u think?U already spit & then u lick them back re.him in 2016 remember?????Urgh!!


Mridul7 Says:

I think these young guys simply dont have that mental baggage of losses against the big 3 such as the likes of Cilic, Anderson, Raonic, Berdych, Nishikori or even Murray have.
Hence, they dont crumble under pressure or when they are about to beat them. They go in fearless and that is the only way to beat them. This is what everyone from Dimitrov generation failed to do.
The guard is definitely changing but it might take some time as the Big 3 and even Murray are still very much hungry for more.


AndyMira Says:

Very agree with Mridul7…Come next season i wanna monitor very closely how these young guns gonna fare the whole season…Whether they can perform consistently like this year or not…

No matter how impressive they r this year…but i still have my heart with the ol’ guns…xcept maybe for Tsitsipas…


Margot Says:

Lol 😁 I see “even Murray” has made a come back on tennisx. Hope he can make another kind of come back in 2019. 💓


J-Kath Says:

Yep, Margot, saw that – ground my teeth a bit. Presume you saw some clips of Andy training – looked like he was training to be a gymnast? “another kind of come back…….”


RZ Says:

Tsk tsk Mridul7 – you managed not one but two “even Murray” mentions in one post.

J-Kath – that training video was fun to watch.


chrisford Says:

Czarlazar – “Zverev won the year end title this year, which is about as significant as Dimitrov winning it last year. When he demonstrates grit in the majors, I’ll start acknowledging his ability to stand with the greats.”

An ATP Championship is one of the big events ATP players are involved in and fight to get a ticket for – 1500 pts vs. 2000 for a Slam, more prize money than the French Open. Prestige-wise, maybe just a little behind the gold medal and gives more evidence of players all-round abilities and ability to play indoors as well as outdoors at a high level.
Not every year does the title go to an “Established Legend” – but the same is true about Slams.


chrisford Says:

Czarlazar – “Zverev won the year end title this year, which is about as significant as Dimitrov winning it last year. When he demonstrates grit in the majors, I’ll start acknowledging his ability to stand with the greats.”

An ATP Championship is one of the big events ATP players are involved in and fight to get a ticket for – 1500 pts vs. 2000 for a Slam, more prize money than the French Open. Prestige-wise, maybe just a little behind the gold medal and gives more evidence of players all-round abilities and ability to play indoors as well as outdoors at a high level.
Not every year does the title go to an “Established Legend” – but the same is true about Slams.


J-Kath Says:

RZ: Yes, there were two “even Murray’s”….and agree the video also fun – Andy looks like he’s enjoying himself – all round physical ability has to be a big positive (I hope).


Colin Says:

All this “even Murray” stuff is not very logical, particularly if it’s Americans saying it.

Roddick was elected to the Hall of Fame, wasn’t he? Well, Murray won three times as many Slams as he did, not to mention a WTF and two successive Olympic golds.

I reckon Murray has one more big win in him, and then he might turn to commentary, where he’d be very good.


chris ford1 Says:

Andy Murray is an absolute shoo-in for the Hall of Fame and there is no question on what player joins Perry with a statue at Wimbledon’s entrance.

I agree with Colin that Murray would be a good one in the booth.


J-Kath Says:

Colin/Chris ford 1:

Yes, Andy would be good in the booth – but I very much doubt that Andy will accept the role (apart from perhaps Wimbledon)as Andy has so much more in his life e.g. he (and Judy) are well into working with promising young tennis players plus supporting new group initatives in fledging businesses.


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