ATP Finals: Djokovic Beats Zverev To Match Federer Record

Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacts as he beats Germany's Alexander Zverev in straight sets in their men's singles round-robin match on day six of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 20, 2020. Glyn KIRK / AFP
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic reacts as he beats Germany’s Alexander Zverev in straight sets in their men’s singles round-robin match on day six of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 20, 2020. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic out-battled Alexander Zverev to qualify for the last four at the ATP Finals on Friday, staying on track to match Roger Federer’s record of six titles at the end-of-season event.

The Serbian top seed, who was beaten comprehensively by Daniil Medvedev in his second round-robin match, was again below his best at London’s O2 Arena but did enough to win 6-3, 7-6 (7/4).

The five-time winner finishes second in Group Tokyo 2020 behind Medvedev and will play third-seed Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals on Saturday.

READ ALSO: FIFA Bans Haiti Football President Over Sexual Misconduct

Second-seed Rafael Nadal, seeking his first win at the elite eight-man event, will face Medvedev in the other semi-final after finishing second in Group London 2020.

Djokovic broke Germany’s Zverev at the first time of asking in the empty stadium and raced into a 3-0 lead, threatening to run away with the match — a repeat of the 2018 final, which Zverev won in straight sets.

The 33-year-old looked focused after his uncharacteristic mauling by Medvedev, serving himself out of trouble when he found himself trailing 15-40 in the seventh game.

That proved to be the last chance for Zverev in the set and 17-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic hammered a backhand winner down the line to take it 6-3.

Djokovic handed Zverev a break point in the fourth game of the second set after double-faulting but the German could not capitalise.

The 23-year-old fifth seed saved two break points on his serve in the following game, letting out a roar as he kept his nose in front.

The set went to a tie-break. Zverev earned an early mini-break but Djokovic levelled and the pressure was back on the German, who faltered to hand the Serbian victory.

The top seed said he had managed to find the right shots at the right time, in contrast to his performance against Medvedev, saying it was “anybody’s game for most of the match”.

He said Thiem, who won his first Grand Slam at the US Open in September, would be a tough opponent.

“Obviously earlier in his career he played his best on clay but of course being one of the hardest workers on the tour, the most dedicated players, Dominic found his ‘A’ game on all other surfaces,” added Djokovic.

“His first Slam came on hard courts earlier this year in New York. I played him last year here — I lost 7-6 in the third set. It was really a thrilling match. Hopefully we can have another great match but this time with a different outcome.”

Djokovic, who recently equalled Pete Sampras’s record of six year-end world number one finishes, has the chance to end the coronavirus-truncated 2020 season on a high by joining the absent Federer on six titles.

Medvedev will take on eighth-seed Diego Schwartzman, in the evening match, which is a dead rubber.

The O2 Arena is hosting the event for the 12th and final season before the championships move to Turin.

 

AFP

Nadal Sweats To Beat Tsitsipas

Spain’s Rafael Nadal celebrates victory against Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas during their men’s singles round-robin match on day six of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 15, 2019. 
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal recovered to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-7 (4/7), 6-4, 7-5 on Friday but faces an anxious wait to find out whether he will qualify for the last four at the ATP Finals.

The Spanish top seed is pinning his hopes on Daniil Medvedev beating defending champion Alexander Zverev in the evening match in Group Andre Agassi in London.

Nadal, who has already secured the year-end number one ranking, has never won the end-of-season tournament and had a miserable start at the O2 Arena, being outplayed by Germany’s Zverev.

But the 19-time Grand Slam champion produced an astonishing comeback to defeat Medvedev, the Russian fourth seed, on Wednesday and give himself a chance of qualifying from the round-robin phase.

READ ALSO: Federer Outclasses Djokovic To Reach ATP Finals Semis

Tsitsipas, 21, had already qualified for the semi-finals before Friday’s match after beating Medvedev and Zverev.

Serve dominated in the first set on Friday, with neither Nadal nor Tsitsipas facing a breakpoint as the match drifted inexorably towards a tie-break.

The Greek sixth seed came out on top, hammering an ace on his first match point to seal the set.

The second set followed a similar pattern until the fifth game when a Tsitsipas double-fault handed Nadal two break points — the first of the match.

The Spaniard could not capitalise but he upped the pressure in Tsitsipas’s next serve game and earned another breakpoint, which the Greek again survived.

But Nadal earned a fourth break point in Tsitsipas’s next service game and this time the Greek player slapped a regulation forehand wide and Nadal went on to level the match.

A pumped-up Nadal maintained his momentum in the early stages of the deciding set, putting consistent pressure on his opponent’s serve but he failed to convert a clutch of breakpoints.

Nadal earned two more breakpoints in the 11th game and this time made it count as Tsitsipas put a backhand wide and he served out to win the match.

Nadal’s efforts will count for nothing unless Medvedev beats Zverev in the later match at the O2 Arena. A win for the German would send Nadal home.

If Medvedev, who cannot progress, beats Zverev, Nadal would face a mouthwatering match against Roger Federer.

Six-time champion Federer, who was in Group Bjorn Borg, secured a spot in the semi-finals for the 16th time in his career on Thursday by beating Novak Djokovic in straight sets.

Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem also qualified for Saturday’s semi-finals.

AFP

Federer Outclasses Djokovic To Reach ATP Finals Semis

Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates his straight sets win over Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in their men’s singles round-robin match on day five of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 14, 2019.
Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Roger Federer produced a near-flawless performance as he avenged his Wimbledon defeat by Novak Djokovic and qualified for the last four of the ATP Finals with a 6-4, 6-3 victory on Thursday.

The Swiss started the tournament with a chastening straight-sets defeat to Dominic Thiem but found his best form when it mattered.

Defeat for the second seed spells the end of his bid to overtake Rafael Nadal and finish as year-end number one.

READ ALSO: Loew Downplays Germany As Euro 2020 Favourites

Roared on by a raucous packed house at London’s O2 Arena, six-time champion Federer looked in the groove from the start, cranking up the pressure on Djokovic’s serve and dropping just three points on his own serve in the first set.

The Serbian upped his game at the start of the second set but Federer, 38, saved the one break point he faced and broke twice to canter to victory.

The third seed, making his 17th appearance at the ATP Finals, is into his 16th semi-final at the year-end event.

Djokovic needed to win the title to have a chance at knocking Nadal off the top spot, but now the Spaniard is guaranteed to finish the year as the top-ranked player for the fifth time, tying him with Federer, Djokovic and American Jimmy Connors.

“Great atmosphere, great opponent,” said Federer, who hit 23 winners and made just five unforced errors. “It was definitely incredibly special. I enjoyed it from the beginning.

“I played incredibly and I knew I had to because that’s what Novak does. It was definitely magical.”

Speaking about what was different from the Wimbledon final, where he squandered two championship points on his own serve, he said: “I won match point I guess.

“It was so close at Wimbledon. It was a privilege to play that match, so many ups and downs. I couldn’t be more happy right now.”

Federer finishes second in Group Bjorn Borg, behind Thiem, who also beat Djokovic earlier this week. The Swiss will face the Group Andre Agassi winner on Saturday.

Metronomic Federer

Djokovic looked nervy at the start of the winner-takes-all contest, double-faulting twice in the third game, in which he was broken to love.

As cries of “Let’s go Roger, let’s go” rang around the cavernous stadium, Federer was dead-eyed on his serve, hitting eight aces, including a second-serve ace, in the first set.

Federer’s service level dipped in the second set and 32-year-old Djokovic earned his first break point of the match in the fourth game, which the Swiss saved.

In the next game, Djokovic slipped to 15-40 and sailed a forehand long to give Federer his second break of the match. The Swiss broke once more to close out the victory.

Djokovic had won his past five meetings with Federer, including their epic five-set battle in the final at Wimbledon in July.

“He was the better player in all aspects and absolutely deserved to win,” said Djokovic. “He served great, moved well, returned my serve very well…. He did everything right.”

In Thursday’s early match in Group Bjorn Borg, which was a dead rubber, eighth seed Matteo Berrettini beat Thiem 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.

Fifth seed Thiem did not hit the heights he reached during his three-set win against Djokovic, notching just 12 winners compared with 50 against the Serbian.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has already qualified for the semi-finals from Group Andre Agassi, leaving Nadal, defending champion Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev to scrap it out for the other spot on Friday.

AFP

Federer Stays Alive At ATP Finals With Berrettini Win

Switzerland’s Roger Federer (R) shakes hands with Italy’s Matteo Berrettini after winning their men’s singles round-robin match on day three of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 12, 2019. Federer won the match 7-6, 6-3. PHOTO: Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Roger Federer kept alive his hopes of a seventh ATP Finals crown on Tuesday, beating Italian debutant Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 at London’s O2 Arena.

The Swiss third seed put himself under enormous pressure by losing his first match on Sunday in straight sets in Group Bjorn Borg to Dominic Thiem.

The six-time champion was not at his fluent best on Tuesday but ultimately had too much for Berrettini, who won just three games against Novak Djokovic in his opener.

Both players were solid on serve in the first set, with Federer struggling to make inroads against the eighth seed.

The Swiss eventually earned himself the sniff of a chance in the 12th game, winning the first break point of the match but Berrettini snuffed out the danger and held to take it into a tie-break.

Federer upped the level of his game in the shootout, helped by some wayward shots from his opponent plus a Berrettini double-fault and won it comfortably 7-2.

The Swiss, clad in black, broke immediately at the start of the second set to leave the Italian with a mountain to climb.

Berrettini earned a clutch of break points in the eighth game but Federer eventually served himself out of trouble.

Federer, as usual enjoying the lion’s share of support from the crowd, broke in the next game to seal the set 6-3.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion said he had remained calm and tried to stay positive after the Thiem defeat.

“There’s no reason to be too down on yourself,” he said. “We came here to play three matches and give it all we have. It was the big goal of the season to come here and qualify which we did, plus I had a day off.”

“Not everything was bad (in the Thiem match) but of course if you over-analyse it, all of a sudden it can be,” he added. “I was ready, I was prepared today and that’s what matters the most.”

Djokovic and Thiem hope to take a major step towards qualifying for the semi-finals when they meet in the later match at the O2 Arena.

Djokovic is hunting a sixth ATP Finals title to pull level with Federer’s record and is also seeking to pip Rafael Nadal to the year-end number one ranking.

On Monday, top seed Nadal lost his opener in Group Andre Agassi to defending champion Alexander Zverev while Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Daniil Medvedev.

The top two players from each group qualify for the semi-finals.

AFP

Djokovic Kickstart ATP Finals With Win Against Berrettini

 Serbia’s Novak Djokovic celebrates his straight-sets win over Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in his men’s singles round-robin match on day one of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 10, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Novak Djokovic eased to a 6-2, 6-1 victory against Matteo Berrettini in his ATP Finals opener on Sunday as he targets a record-equalling sixth year-end number one ranking.

The Serbian, a five-time champion at the end-of-season event, was last week nudged off the top spot in the rankings by Rafael Nadal, who is also in the eight-man field in London.

Djokovic, who won the Australian Open and Wimbledon this season, must reach the final to stand any chance of dislodging Nadal but there are major questions over the Spaniard’s fitness.

READ ALSO: France Crush Australian Dreams To Win Fed Cup Final

The second seed saw off the challenge of Berrettini in just 62 minutes, converting five of seven breakpoints and out-serving his 23-year-old opponent.

Eighth-seed Berrettini, appearing at the ATP Finals for the first time, went toe to toe with Djokovic at the start of the match but the Serbian broke twice to take the first set 6-2.

Djokovic romped into a 4-0 lead in the second set as the Italian continued to struggle with his serve but was pegged back in the fifth game as Berrettini broke for the first time.

The unflappable 16-time Grand Slam champion broke back in the following game and served out to take the set 6-1.

Germany’s Alexander Zverev shocked Djokovic in last year’s final at the O2 Arena but the Serbian is the firm favourite to equal Roger Federer’s tally of six ATP Finals titles after cantering to victory at last week’s Paris Masters.

Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic were the top three seeds when they first competed together at the tournament way back in 2007 and are still the men to beat 12 years later.

Nadal, who has never won the event, is bidding to clinch the year-end number one spot in the ATP rankings for the fifth time.

The season-ending tournament, featuring the year’s best eight players, is contested in a round-robin format with the best four players and doubles teams reaching the knockout semi-finals stage.

The other two members of the Bjorn Borg group are Federer and Dominic Thiem of Austria, who meet in the evening match.

Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Zverev are in the Andre Agassi group.

AFP

Thiem Keeps ATP Finals Hopes Alive With Nishikori Win

Austria’s Dominic Thiem returns against Japan’s Kei Nishikori during their men’s singles round-robin match on day five of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 15, 2018. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Dominic Thiem kept his ATP Finals alive on Thursday, beating Kei Nishikori in straight sets and pinning his hopes on a comprehensive win for Kevin Anderson over Roger Federer.

Thiem, who came into his final round-robin match at London’s O2 Arena with two defeats — against Anderson and Federer, beat Nishikori 6-1, 6-4 in the afternoon session.

The Austrian sixth seed broke his Japanese rival, who shocked Federer in his opening match, twice in the first set and a single break was enough for him to take the second set and seal the match.

Nishikori won just 56 percent of points on his serve throughout the match, in the Lleyton Hewitt group, and hit a total of 41 unforced errors, compared to 21 for Thiem.

Second seed Federer, looking to reach the semi-finals for the 15th time in 16 ATP Finals appearances, is 4-1 ahead in his head-to-head record against South Africa’s Anderson but he lost to him in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon in a five-set classic.

Top seed Djokovic is already through to the semi-finals after beating Alexander Zverev in the Guga Kuerten group, with Zverev, Marin Cilic and John Isner battling for the other semi-final berth.

AFP

Federer Downs Thiem To Keep ATP Finals Bid Alive

Struggling Federer Squeezes Into Basel Semi-Finals
File photo: Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after winning his quarter-final match against France’s Gilles Simon at the Swiss Indoors ATP 500 tennis tournament on October 26, 2018 in Basel. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

 

Roger Federer staved off elimination from the ATP Finals as the six-time champion eased to a 6-2, 6-3 win over Dominic Thiem on Tuesday.

After losing his opening match at London’s O2 Arena against Kei Nishikori, Federer would have crashed out if he had been beaten by Thiem.

Only once before has Federer failed to qualify from his group for the knockout rounds in his 15 previous appearances at the prestigious season-ending event.

That lone flop came 10 years ago when the Finals were held in Shanghai and Federer is still in with a chance of avoiding that ignominious fate thanks to his comfortable 66-minute dismissal of Thiem.

Bidding for a record seventh ATP Finals crown and a first in the tournament since 2011 – which would be the 100th singles title of his glittering career – world number three Federer must beat South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in his last group match to make the semi-finals.

“It feels good. I am very happy that I showed a reaction after the last match,” Federer said.

“Against Kei, instead of seeing things positively, I thought negatively. It was disappointing but it happens.

“Today I was more positive and happy on the court. I love playing in London and I had to remind myself what a privilege it is. I hope I showed it.”

Since winning his 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, Federer has been stuck in a prolonged slump by his sky-high standards.

A quarter-final exit at Wimbledon, blowing a two-set lead against Anderson, was followed by a stunning US Open last 16 defeat to Australian journeyman John Millman.

The 37-year-old’s defeat in his opening Finals match against Nishikori on Sunday marked the first time Federer had lost in straight sets in 46 group stage matches.

He responded to that setback by cancelling his practice session on Monday, sparking fears he was seriously hampered by a hand injury that has troubled him since the grass-court season in June and July.

Having cut a grumpy figure during his error-strewn loss to Nishikori, Federer’s spirits were lifted by this solid show, aided by Thiem’s 34 unforced errors.

After missing a break point in the opening game, Federer started to find his rhythm and he landed the first break for a 2-1 lead when the world number eight sent a forehand long.

Anderson landmark

Another break followed in the seventh game as Thiem netted a tame volley as Federer won the first set with ease.

While it wasn’t vintage Federer, he was doing enough to take advantage of Thiem’s sloppy display as the French Open finalist double-faulted to gift a break in the opening game of the second set.

That was all the encouragement Federer needed as he cruised to the finish line.

Earlier, Anderson handed Japanese star Nishikori a humiliating 6-0, 6-1 thrashing as the South African moved to the brink of a semi-final berth.

Anderson won the first 11 games and needed only 64 minutes to demolish the woeful Nishikori.

Having also won his opening match against Thiem in his ATP Finals debut, Anderson is close to becoming the first African to qualify for the last four.

It was a landmark moment for the 32-year-old, who has set a new career-high of 47 victories in a calender year.

He will rarely have had such an easy outing as this one throughout his memorable 2018, which saw him reach his first Wimbledon final in July.

“It’s amongst the best I’ve played. I did a really good job constantly applying the pressure and not letting up,” Anderson said.

“I was growing in confidence and he sort of probably was going a little the other way. So, from my side, I did a fantastic job throughout really.”

Former US Open finalist Nishikori was at a loss to explain his performance, saying: “I played one of the worst matches this year. Today was a terrible match.

Dimitrov Defeats Thiem At ATP Finals

Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov (R) embraces Austria’s Dominic Thiem after his three-set victory on day two of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 13, 2017. Glyn KIRK / AFP

Grigor Dimitrov held his nerve to launch his ATP Finals campaign with a 6-3, 5-7, 7-5 victory over Dominic Thiem on Monday, as Rafael Nadal prepared to start his quest for the biggest title missing from his impressive collection.

The elegant Bulgarian had the edge for most of an enthralling contest of one-handed backhands in front of a sizeable crowd at London’s O2 Arena but admitted he felt “pretty nervous” in his first appearance at the end-of-season showpiece.

The sixth seed, who has enjoyed the best season of his career, looked wobbly as he blew his chance to serve for the match at 5-4 in the decider only to hit back immediately as Thiem himself faltered, sealing victory on his third match point.

“I’m not going to lie — I was pretty nervous, my first match out here,” said Dimitrov.

“I’m just very grateful to win that match, especially in that manner. It’s never easy to come out here and play for the first time.”

A single break was enough for Dimitrov to take the first set, with his fourth-seeded opponent only managing to land 37 percent of first serves on the zippy blue court.

In a tight second set, the 26-year-old earned a potentially decisive break point in the 11th game but Thiem, whose service numbers improved significantly, held firm and went on to break to love in the next game to level the match.

In a topsy-turvy decider, Dimitrov engineered a break and served for the match only for Thiem to hit back, but that only brought a stay of execution for the Austrian, who served two double faults to hand the advantage back to his opponent.

Later, Nadal takes on David Goffin in the second match in the Pete Sampras group, with questions over his fitness after the Spaniard admitted he was not training at 100 percent following his withdrawal from the Paris Masters with a knee injury.

The world number one has won 75 singles titles in his illustrious career, including 16 Grand Slams and 30 Masters events but he has yet to win the ATP Finals in seven previous appearances.

In the absence of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, all eyes are on a potential showdown in London between Nadal and Roger Federer, who started his bid for a seventh ATP Finals title with a straight-sets victory against American Jack Sock on Sunday.

In the other match in the Boris Becker group, rising star Alexander Zverev beat Marin Cilic in three sets.

The ATP Finals feature the top eight fit male singles players and doubles teams that have accrued the most points throughout the 2017 season.

The tournament is organised on a round-robin basis, with the best two from each group progressing to the semi-finals.

AFP

Federer Paired With Zverev In ATP Finals Draw

FILE PHOTO: Roger Federer

Six-time champion Roger Federer will face rising star Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals in London after they were placed in the same group on Wednesday while Rafael Nadal headlines the other section.

Federer, 36, looking to crown a remarkable year in which he has lost just four matches following a return from a lengthy lay-off, will also face former US Open champion Marin Cilic and American Jack Sock in the Boris Becker group.

Nadal’s opponents in the Pete Sampras group are Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin, with the Spanish world number one looking to win his first ATP Finals trophy.

Nadal pulled out of last week’s Paris Masters before his quarter-final with a knee injury, placing his participation in London in doubt.

Federer has won seven titles this season including the Australian Open and Wimbledon, but lost out on the year-end number one ranking to his long-time rival Nadal.

Germany’s Zverev, 20, has rocketed to third in the world rankings after an impressive year in which he has won five titles, including beating Federer in the final of the Rogers Cup Masters event in Montreal.

The ATP Finals, starting on Sunday, are the year-end climax to the men’s professional tennis season, featuring the world’s best eight qualified singles players and doubles teams.

Players compete for rankings points throughout the season in a bid to earn one of the eight coveted berths.

Played using a round-robin format at The O2 in London, each participant plays three matches as they compete for a berth in the knockout semi-finals.

AFP

ATP World Tour Finals: Djokovic Defeats Nishikori 6-1 6-1

ATPWorld number one, Novak Djokovic has stretched his winning streak to 15 straight victories at the ATP finals by beating Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1.

The top-ranked Serb has not lost at the season-ending tournament at the O2 Arena since 2011 and has won three straight titles since then.

The world number one needed just 65 minutes to see off the eighth seed Nishikori, and ended the afternoon with a trophy in his hands as he was confirmed as the 2015 world number one.

Before Sunday’s game, the ATP held a minute’s silence for the victims of the Paris attacks.

Elsewhere, Maria Sharapova came back from a set down to win her reverse singles match against Petra Kvitova to give Russia a 2-1 lead in the Fed Cup final in Prague.

In Sunday’s clash, the world number four, playing in her first Fed Cup final, defeated Kvitova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in the battle of the teams’ top singles players.

Kvitova, ranked number six in the world, broke the Russian in the first game and again in the ninth to take the set 6-3.

In the second set, Sharapova broke Kvitova to lead 3-2 before the Czech broke back in the next game to level at 3-3.

Sharapova broke again to lead 5-4 with a fine backhand pass and she closed out the set 6-4.