Alexander Zverev stuns Novak Djokovic to become youngest ATP Finals champion in a decade

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Alexander Zverev denied Novak Djokovic a record-equaling sixth ATP Finals title by producing some impressive tennis to stun the Serb 6-4, 6-3 and become the youngest player to lift the trophy since his opponent won it in 2008.

The 21-year-old Zverev, who had lost to Djokovic easily just four days earlier in the round robin stage, followed up his victory over Roger Federer in the semi-finals with success in Sunday’s championship match, to become the first German since Boris Becker in 1995 to win the ATP Finals.

A day after getting booed by the O2 Arena crowd for stopping play in the second-set tiebreak against Federer when a ball kid accidentally dropped a ball onto the court, Zverev showcased precisely why he is being described as the future of tennis, handing an in-form Djokovic just his third defeat in his last 38 matches.

Those three defeats Djokovic suffered came against Stefanos Tsitsipas (Toronto), Karen Khachanov (Paris Masters) and now Zverev – players who are all aged 22 and under.

It is the latest sign that a changing of the guard could be just around the corner, and Zverev’s triumph, witnessed by a marquee audience that included the likes of David Beckham and Guga Kuerten, was a fitting finale to a transitional 2018 season.

“Right now I really can’t describe it. I’m unbelievably happy, this is obviously the biggest title I’ve ever won,” said Zverev during the trophy ceremony.

“First of all I’d like to congratulate Novak on a great week again, not only this week but you know how you played the second half of the year, we maybe never seen it before, you barely lost a match and I’m actually very thankful that you lost one to me today.

“We played twice this week, everybody knows how good of a tennis player you are but I want to really mention how good of a person you are as well. We had so many talks, not only about tennis, but about other stuff, about life, about all different kinds of subjects, I’m not going to mention the ones we talked about, but yeah, you’re also a very good sharer of this world.

“I appreciate you sharing titles with me and matches. Obviously you could win any match you want but I appreciate you letting me win one today. Huge congratulations to the whole Novak team, you guys have been absolutely amazing. Having surgery this year and finishing the year as world No. 1, I don’t know if that’s ever been done before.”

Entering the final, Djokovic hadn’t dropped serve in any of his 36 service games through the five matches he played. He had only faced two break points en route to the final both of which came against Zverev in the round robin stage.

Serve reigned supreme through the first eight games, with both players barely dropping points on their own serve. But Zverev found an opening in game nine, creating the first break point of the match, and he converted on a netted forehand from Djokovic. It was the first time the world No. 1 was broken all tournament.

Serving for the set at 5-4, Zverev, who led the tournament with 42 aces entering the final, aced three times and wrapped up the set on his second opportunity in 39 minutes.

The world No. 4 won a 26-shot rally to get a break point in Djokovic’s first service game of the second set. The top seed saved it but soon faced another and this time, Zverev did not flinch, out-rallying Djokovic and breaking with a brilliant forehand winner. Djokovic pegged him back immediately for 1-1 but Zverev struck again to take the lead.

The break-fest was finally halted by Zverev, who opened up a 3-1 lead and he maintained his advantage throughout the second set. He secured an exceptional victory against a seemingly invincible Djokovic with a passing shot winner he won’t forget anytime soon.

An emotional Zverev fell to the ground in disbelief and Djokovic walked over to his side of the court to congratulate him. As the pair embraced, one couldn’t help but feel that moment could end up bearing deeper significance down the road, as Zverev became the youngest to win this title since Djokovic achieved that feat 10 years ago. It was like a torch had been passed on from one generation to the other, even though Djokovic remains No. 1 in the world and has won the last two majors.

“There’s a lot of similarities in terms of trajectory of professional tennis, in our careers. Hopefully he can surpass me. I sincerely wish him that. He seems like someone that is very dedicated. Without a doubt, he’s a really nice person, someone that gets along very well with everyone,” said Djokovic of Zverev.

“He deserves everything he gets so far. There’s a lot of time ahead of him. Wish him to stay healthy and obviously win a lot of titles.”

Most popular

Related Sections

Roger Federer 'proud' of being this competitive at 37

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Roger Federer is “proud” of his 2018 and confirmed he will be competing next season, albeit admitting he has lots of decisions to make regarding his schedule.

The Swiss, who bowed out of the ATP Finals with a defeat to Alexander Zverev in the semis on Saturday, claimed four titles this year, including a 20th Grand Slam trophy. He also managed to return to the world No. 1 spot in February, and held it for eight weeks in total this season.

“Sampras once upon a time said, ‘If you win a Slam, it’s a good season’. So started great. I played super well in Australia again. So obviously I can’t wait to go back there in a couple of months,” Federer said, reflecting on his 2018.

He ends the year as the world No. 3. Asked if five years ago he would have signed up for a season like this at the age of 37, Federer said: “Yeah, I probably would have. I must tell you I’m very proud that at 37 I’m still so competitive and so happy playing tennis. From that standpoint, I mean, as disappointed as I might be about this match, if I take a step back, I’m actually very happy about the season.

“It’s been a historic season in some ways. Got back to world No. 1. For me, that was a huge moment in my life, to be honest, in my career because I never thought I would get there again.

“Five years ago, where was I? I was probably fighting with back pain in ’13, not sure if I was ever going to figure that back pain out again because I had it for almost probably four or five months of the season. It really rocked my tennis for a bit.

“Here I am having actually a pretty good season physically, as well, won another Slam, got back to world No. 1. So, yes, you can see it as a very, very positive season. That’s probably how I will look back on it, as well, once on vacation.”

Federer had some close losses this year, but when pressed to pick a point he’d like to replay from those tight defeats, he told Swiss press he would choose the match point he squandered against Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, and the ones he held against Juan Martin del Potro in the Indian Wells final.

Looking ahead to next season, Federer knows a lot of decisions need to be made regarding his schedule, his preparations and everything in between.

“I think we’re eager to see what we’re going to work on exactly. Also what’s the decision on the clay, seeing what’s going to transpire through the vacation, what is my thoughts, all that, then taking the decision at some point in next few weeks on that,” said Federer.

“Yeah, so definitely the plan is to play again next year, and come up with a good schedule that suits my family, suits Mirka [my wife], me. That’s why it’s good that we have time now. Also that suits fitness coach, physio, coaches, and everybody. Yeah, looking forward to that process. I like taking decisions, so it’s all good.”

Most popular

Related Tags

Related Sections

Alexander Zverev's victory over Roger Federer overshadowed by ball kid dropping ball

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Zverev apologised to Federer at the net.

Alexander Zverev apologised to a booing crowd after he defeated Roger Federer and became the youngest player to reach the title match of the ATP Finals since Juan Martin del Potro in 2009.

In what was later described by Federer as a “bold move”, Zverev stopped play during the eighth point of the second-set tiebreak because a ball kid standing behind the Swiss accidentally dropped a ball, which rolled onto the court for a few feet.

Umpire Carlos Bernardes and Federer both didn’t see the incident occur but after Bernardes confirmed with the ball kid that he had indeed dropped the ball, the Brazilian decided they should replay the point. Federer had managed to return Zverev’s serve in the point that was interrupted. When the point was replayed, Zverev aced the Swiss on his way to a 7-5, 7-6(5) victory, denying Federer the chance to fight for a 100th career title.

During his on-court interview with Annabel Croft, an apologetic Zverev tried to explain what happened to the booing O2 Arena crowd.

“First of all I’d like to apologise for the situation in the tiebreak. The ball boy dropped the ball so it’s in the rules that we have to replay the point,” said the 21-year-old German.

Croft addressed the crowd and told them Zverev was telling the truth, and that the booing was unwarranted.

“I think you have to be a little bit more respectful,” said Croft.

Zverev continued: “I apologised to Roger at the net already. He told me it’s okay and it’s obviously in the rules. I want to apologise to the crowd as well.

“There’s a lot of Roger fans here as he deserves. He should, from what he’s achieved and the kind of guy he is, he should have the most fans in the world.”

Zverev admits he felt “sad” from the whole situation.

“Obviously a lot of emotions going on through my head. I was really upset afterwards in the locker room, as well. I’m not going to lie. I had to take a few minutes for myself,” he said.

“I hope the crowd and the people who were booing maybe look at what actually happened, maybe just realise that I’ve maybe not done anything wrong…

“The ball boy dropped the ball in the middle of the rally then ran for it. Without even thinking, I stopped the rally, said it was a let. That’s how it is with the rules.”

Federer, whose last of six ATP Finals titles came in 2011, addressed the incident calmly during his press conference, in which he was asked if the situation affected him.

“What do you mean, ‘it affected me?’ Of course it did. It got replayed. I got aced. So, yes, it did affect me,” said Federer.

“I don’t know what’s rules are. I just think I was trying to think what would I have done in his position? It’s bold to stop the rally because I don’t know if it’s an umpire’s decision or not. While you’re hitting, that might go through your head. So I would have probably said, Whew, I’ll probably keep on playing, unless the ball really rolls into the court quick.

“I don’t know what happened actually. Was it a bounce and it rolled, or a bounce and he picked it up?

“It did roll, okay. Well, I mean, it’s a very difficult call. I didn’t see it. The umpire didn’t see it. But once the ball boy said that’s what happened, linesman confirmed, the umpire believes them, which is obviously true, what is there to be done? It’s normal to replay the point from that point on.

“It was obviously a big call. Instead of being in the rally in a decent position, you get aced, yes, it makes a difference. It could have made a difference. That’s all hypothetically speaking now at this point…

“I’m not questioning Sascha’s sportsmanship in any way. I think it’s a bold move by Sascha to stop the rally because the umpire can just say, ‘Sorry, buddy, you’re in the rally. I don’t care. You lost the point. I didn’t see it’.”

Federer, who once upon a time was a ball boy himself at his home tournament in Basel, assures he is not upset with the boy who dropped the ball.

“I just asked him, ‘Did you drop the ball?’ I didn’t understand what he said. I said, ‘Did you drop the ball?’ He said, ‘Yes, I did drop the ball’.

“From that standpoint, it’s, ‘Okay, no problem, that happens’. It’s all good. It’s all good. I hope he doesn’t have a sleepless night. It’s not a big deal at the end of the day. It could have been if maybe I win the next point. Whatever happened, this is life, this is sports. I’m definitely not mad at him. It’s all good, you know, from my side.”

Federer concedes that he didn’t play as well as he would have liked and said he struggled with Zverev’s first serve earlier in the match. The 37-year-old concludes his season with a 48-10 win-loss record and his quest for a 100th title will have to resume in 2019.

Zverev is the first German to reach the title decider at the ATP Finals since Boris Becker in 1996. He is now 3-3 head-to-head against Federer and will be chasing the biggest trophy of his career on Sunday.

On Zverev getting booed, Federer said: “Sascha doesn’t deserve it. He apologised to me at the net. I was like, ‘Buddy, shut up. You don’t need to apologise to me here. Congratulations on a great match and a great tournament so far. All the best for the finals’. And you move on. He shouldn’t be apologising.”

Looking ahead to next season, Federer knows a lot of decisions need to be made regarding his schedule, his preparations and everything in between.

“I think we’re eager to see what we’re going to work on exactly. Also what’s the decision on the clay, seeing what’s going to transpire through the vacation, what is my thoughts, all that, then taking the decision at some point in next few weeks on that,” said the 37-year-old.

“Yeah, so definitely the plan is to play again next year, and come up with a good schedule that suits my family, suits Mirka, me. That’s why it’s good that we have time now. Also that suits fitness coach, physio, coaches, and everybody. Yeah, looking forward to that process. I like taking decisions, so it’s all good.”

Most popular

Related Sections