Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev will face each other in the decisive ATP Cup tie on Friday at Melbourne Park, with Serbia and Germany battling for the semi-final spot. Alexander and Novak have played six times so far, with the German scoring two wins in their opening three matches before Novak took charge and defeated the German thrice in a row.
Their most recent clash came in November at the ATPO Finals, and Djokovic scored a 6-3, 7-6 triumph to advance into the semis and finish Zverev's season. The German will give his best to topple world no. 1 on Friday, feeling motivated after beating Denis Shapovalov in the opening match.
Still, he knows how tough it is to beat Novak Djokovic at Melbourne Park, praising the Serb and his eight Australian Open titles. Last year, Zverev was miles from his best tennis at the ATP Cup, struggling physically and losing all three encounters to Alex de Minaur, Denis Shapovalov and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Zverev changed that already in the first clash in 2021, prevailing over Denis Shapovalov 6-7, 6-3, 7-6 in two hours and 55 minutes to wrap up Germany's victory. Alexander hit 39 winners and 34 unforced errors, fended off all four break chances and delivered one break in set number two.
Alexander Zverev praised Novak Djokovic ahead of their Friday's clash.
The German wasted many return chances in the decider but found a way to bring the victory home in the tie break. A left-hander saved a break point in game 11 with a booming serve and seized the breaker 7-5 following Zverev's backhand mistake.
Alexander bounced back with a break at 2-1 in set number two thanks to a return winner and saved break points in games five and seven to remain in front, closing the set with a smash winner at 5-3 to gain a boost. Shapovalov denied seven break points in three different games to remain competitive and reach another tie break.
Serving at 5-4, Zverev landed two aces to move over the top and set Thursday's Novak Djokovic clash. "Novak is the world's leading player. I think he feels most comfortable at these Melbourne Park courts; it's the most challenging place to beat him.
I have to risk more, but also stay patient at some phases. Winning a team event or something for your country is one of the most incredible things in our sport. It's similar to a victory over Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open.
The ATP Cup was extremely bad for me last year; I didn't feel good, especially as the leading player and Germany's biggest hope. I'm hoping to change things this year and win the title." Alexander Zverev said.