Last Saturday, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev battled for the fifth time in 2021, chasing the ATP Finals title clash. Zverev prevailed 7-6, 4-6, 6-3 after two and a half hours en route to his second title match at the premium ATP event, staying focused after the second set and overpowering the world's leading player with a single break in the decider.
After the match, Alexander praised Novak as the greatest player of all time after everything the Serb has achieved in the past 15 years. Novak had a great season, winning three Majors and missing a chance to secure the first calendar Grand Slam since 1969 after losing the US Open final.
Last week, Djokovic looked good in Turin, winning all three round-robin encounters in straight sets and setting eyes on the sixth ATP Finals trophy, the first since 2015. Still, Zverev did enough to halt him in the semi-final, playing on a high level throughout the match and defeating Djokovic for the second time this year after the Olympic Games.
The German won eight points more than the Serb and played better behind the second serve to neutralize Novak's impressive performance behind the first. Both players fended off three out of four break chances and blasted 29 aces combined on the fast indoor surface to remain neck and neck.
Zverev kept his coolness throughout the encounter, hitting only one double fault and enduring thrilling rallies to emerge at the top. Alexander hit 35 winners and 24 unforced errors and left Novak behind in the most extended exchanges to cross the finish line first.
After nine great holds on both sides in the opener, Zverev blasted a powerful serve to fend off a set point at 4-5 and brought the game home after Djokovic's backhand mistake.
Alexander Zverev believes Novak Djokovic is the greatest player ever.
Novak faced two break points in the 11th game and erased them with two winners to stay in touch and introduce a tie break.
Returning at 4-3, Alexander won a point at the net following a lucky net cord and closed the opener with two winners at 5-4 after precisely an hour, gaining a boost ahead of set number two. The rivals stayed close to each other until 4-4 in the second set when Djokovic grabbed the first break with a deep return that pushed him in front.
Novak seized the fifth set point at 5-4 with an ace to introduce a decider after an hour and 45 minutes. Zverev stayed calm and delivered his first and only break at 2-1 in the final set, taking advantage of Djokovic's loose backhand to forge the pivotal lead.
Alexander cemented the break with a service winner and erased a break chance in game seven after Novak's basic mistake to remain in front. Serving for the victory at 5-3, the German fired an unreturned serve down the T line to beat world no.
1 for the fourth time in 11 encounters and set the title clash against the defending champion Daniil Medvedev. "I needed a lot of physical strength to beat the champion like Novak Djokovic. Every time we play, it takes hours to complete, and I have spent the most time on the court in 2021 against Novak.
I'm happy about the victory and reaching the final; I will give my everything tomorrow. Novak deserves all the respect. Considering where he started from and what he achieved, Novak is the greatest player of all time. People should understand that once for a change," Alexander Zverev said.