'Novak Djokovic seemingly has the longest runway', says former No.1

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'Novak Djokovic seemingly has the longest runway', says former No.1

Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic met five times in 2021, with three victories for the Serbian and two for the German. Novak defeated Alexander at the Australian Open and the US Open, while the youngster stopped the world's leading player at the Olympics and ATP Finals.

Zverev and Djokovic had a couple of memorable encounters, with the most recent being on Saturday when they battled for a spot in the Atp Finals title match. After two and a half hours, Zverev edged out Djokovic 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, advancing to the second ATP Finals title match and leaving Novak without the trophy in the ATP premium event for the sixth consecutive season.

. The German won eight more points than the Serbian and played better behind the second serve to neutralize Novak's impressive first serve performance. Both players fended off three of four break opportunities and hit a combined 29 aces to use the fast surface and stay head-to-head.

Zverev kept his cool throughout the match, committing just one double fault and enduring thrilling rallies to emerge on top and stay on track for the title. Alexander hit 35 winners and 24 unforced errors and outplayed Novak in the longest exchanges to cross the finish line first.

In one of the crucial moments, Zverev threw a powerful serve to fend off a 4-5 chance in the first game and bring the game home after Djokovic's backhand error. Novak faced two break points in the 11th game and erased them with two winners to stay in touch until the tiebreaker.

Returning at 4-3, Alexander won a very lucky point at the net and closed the first set with two winners at 5-4 after exactly one hour, gaining momentum and hoping for more in the rest of the match.

Andy Roddick on the Big 3

Notably, the former World No.1 and 2003 US Open champion Andy Roddick reflected on the Grand Slam race next year.

He emphasized Novak Djokovic’s undecided Australian Open participation and Rafael Nadal’s return, and he also raised doubts about Roger Federer’s comeback. “Given the runway and the toll on the bodies and what we have seen as far as bodies breaking down, Novak seemingly has the longest runway and has been playing the best consistently for the last 5 or 10 years even, but he only got better this year,” Roddick explained.

In addition to that, the retired American professional said he can’t say the same about Nadal and Federer. Thus, Roddick considers Djokovic the favorite over Nadal in Melbourne; however, he doesn’t overlook the alternative.

“I don’t think Rafa’s the favorite regardless of Novak’s there or not as it currently stands, but there’s a serious wrinkle,” Roddick added.

Novak Djokovic