Zverev Wins ATP World Tour Finals To Claim Biggest Title of His Career
The way Novak Djokovic had been playing prior to Sunday’s final at the year ending championships, many may have wondered whether there was even any point in playing the final at all, instead of simply handing Novak Djokovic the trophy immediately. After all, Djokovic had beaten an in-form Kevin Anderson 6-2 6-2 in his previous match and had destroyed his fellow finalist Alexander Zverev for the loss of just five games before that.
However, the lesson that tennis fans can learn from this match is that nothing is impossible. Zverev played what was certainly the best match of his career to stun the world number one, beating Djokovic 6-4 6-3 in 1 hour and 20 minutes. The key to this match was the serve ofZverev, who made a remarkable 88% of his first serves in the first set. This enabled Zverev to lay the foundation stones for his game plan, by having little trouble holding his serve. This meant that the German merely had to do what nobody else had done this week: break Novak Djokovic’s serve. Zverev got his opportunity to do so at 4-4, as Djokovic played a poor game to go down 30-40. This was to be the defining moment of the match, as Djokovic dumped a lacklustre forehand into the net to give Zverev the chance to serve the set out, which he did with considerable aplomb, serving 3 consecutive aces in that particular game.
Zverev picked up where he left off in the second set, breaking Djokovic at 1-1 to take a commanding lead once again. Djokovic could not even muster up a break point chance after this, as Zverev continued to land huge first serves while making very few errors from the back of the court. The match eventually finished while Djokovic was serving at 3-5 down, Zverev sealing victory with an ironically Djokovic-esque backhand pass down the line. Critics of Zverev have always questioned his ability to stay composed in big matches, something which they will struggle to make a case for now.
“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. “How I played today, how I won it, for me it’s just amazing.” “It’s quite astonishing, winning this title, beating two such players back-to-back, Roger and Novak, in semi-finals and final”. “It means so much. I’m incredibly happy and incredibly proud of this moment right now.”
Zverev’s victory marks the 3rd year in a row that there has been a first-time winner at the World Tour Finals, Murray and Dimitrov being the 2 previous champions. But Zverev’s age (21) is what makes this result even more fascinating, as it hints that the long-awaited seismic shift at the top of men’s tennis is coming soon. Zverev had to beat Federer and Djokovic on his way to the title, showing us that perhaps the so-called “Big 4” aren’t impervious after all. What remains to be done for Zverev is to make a deep run at one of the four majors, to prove that he can also deliver over five sets. We will have to see next year, but for now, the tennis world moves onto next week’s Davis Cup final, the last tennis of 2018.