In one of the most unexpected weekend of tennis, Alexander Zverev produced breathtaking tennis to demolish the world number One Novak Djokovic 6-4,6-3 in only 80 minutes to become the second youngest player to win the season ending finale at the O2 Arena in London. The win enabled the 21 year old German to clinch fourth spot in the year end rankings, only 35 points behind the Swiss Roger Federer.
In what he termed as the biggest title of his career, Zverev, the three time Master’s titles winner Zverev got the lone break of service in the ninth game of the first set and then held his serve in the next game which was the first time the Serb dropped a set entire week and also the first time Djokovic dropped serve in the tournament.
He then broke in the first game of the second set before Djokovic got the break back right away. The young German was not to be denied as he broke an out of sorts Djokovic in the fifth game and then sealed the win with a backhand pass down the line to become the first German since Boris Becker in 1995 to win the season ending finale.
Zverev served 10 aces but also had three double faults, but served a very high 71% first serves in. Djokovic had one ace and a double fault each and got only 59% first serves in. While Zverev converted four out of six break points chances, Djokovic converted on the lone break point he had.
For the match Zverev won 57 points, while Djokovic won 46. Both players have won four titles in 2018. Zverev triumphed in Munich, Madrid, Washington and here in London. While Djokovic, who missed the second half of 2017 due to injury, triumphed at Wimbledon, Cincinnati, US Open in New York and in Shanghai. Zverev ends the year with tour leading 58-19 record, while Djokovic was 53-12 for the year. It was only the Serb’s third loss in 38 matches since the start of Wimbledon.
On Saturday, in the first semi final in the afternoon session, Zverev got the lone break in the first set as he made the Swiss pay for his strange tactic of receiving first after winning the toss, clinching the opening set in twelveth game to win the opening set 7-5. Federer had an early break but Zverev broke back before it went to a tie-break.
At 3-4 down on Zverev’s serve a ball girl accidentally dropped the ball and Zverev stopped play. The umpire asked the point to be replaced and the German got the mini break when Federer netted a simple volley into the net to go two match points down. He saved the first but Zverev was not to be denied as he took the next point on a drive volley on his own serve to clinch the win 7-5,7-6(5) in one hour and thirty five minutes to become the first German since Boris Becker in 1996 to reach the final at the World Tour Final.
With the loss Federer ends the season with a 48-10 record, having won four titles at the Australian Open in Melbourne, Rotterdam, Stuttgart and in his hometown Basel. He finishes the year ranked third behind Djokovic and Rafael Nadal who missed the tournament due to injury.
Much was expected in the evening session as Djokovic took on the South African Kevin Anderson in the second semi final. Djokovic broke serve twice in each set and never faced a break point in the entire one hour sixteen minute match which he won 6-2,6-2 to enter his seventh World Tour Final.
Winner in 2008, 2012-2015, the Serb converted on four out of the nine break point chances against the tall South African who was making his first appearance at the season ending finale. Anderson who finishes the year ranked sixth, had only 48% first serves in and ends the year with a 48-19 mark.
Following is the Top Ten year end ranking for 2018 alongwith ranking points:-
1) Novak Djokovic – 9,045
2) Rafael Nadal – 7,480
3) Roger Federer – 6,420
4) Alexander Zverev – 6,385
5) Juan Martin Del Potro – 5,300
6) Kevin Anderson – 4,510
7) Marin Cilic – 4,250
8) Dominic Thiem – 4,095
9) Kei Nishikori – 3,590
10) John Isner – 3,155.
– Rasesh Mehta [Rasesh Mehta is an analyst with the Tennis Galaxy. You can reach him at the email: email@example.com]