Shanghai Flashback: Novak Djokovic downs Alexander Zverev and passes Roger Federer

Competing in his 1000th ATP match in a career, world no. 3 Novak Djokovic produced another dominant performance in Shanghai 2018. Novak toppled the 4th seed Alexander Zverev 6-2, 6-1 in precisely an hour for a place in his 103rd ATP final and the fifth of the season. It was Novak’s 44th victory in 2018 and the 38th in the last 42 matches, finding his form after Madrid and never looking back. Djokovic grabbed the 327th Masters 1000 triumph, advanced to his 46th Masters 1000 final and sought the 32nd title. Zverev won their only previous encounter in the final of Rome a year earlier but stood no chance in this one. The three-time Shanghai champion overpowered the youngster in both the serving department and the baseline, controlling the scoreboard from start to finish to take another big step in the year-end no. 1 battle with Rafael Nadal.

Novak was yet to get broken that week in Shanghai and kept his serve intact against the young German, dropping 13 points in eight service games and never facing a break point. On the other hand, Zverev struggled to impact his initial shot, dropping 53% of the points in his games and suffering four breaks from six chances offered to Djokovic. The Serb had six winners and nine unforced errors but did more than enough after the German’s 24 unforced errors. Alexander missed equally from his forehand and backhand to plague his chances for a more favorable result.

In 2018, Novak Djokovic lost three games against Alexander Zverev in Shanghai.

Novak had a clear 30-15 advantage in the shortest points up to four strokes and was 22-15 up in the more extended rallies to secure his victory in no time for his 17th consecutive win. Zverev was there to fight in the opening four games, losing one point in the first two service games before Djokovic found his range on the return to break him at 15 at 3-2. The Serb confirmed the advantage with three winners in the next one and closed the set on a high note, breaking Zverev at 15 in game eight for 6-2 after just 31 minutes. Djokovic grabbed another break in the second set’s fourth game, and the finish line was in his sight when Alexander sprayed a forehand error at 1-4 to drop serve for the fourth time. Serving for the victory, a former champion rushed a bit but fired a service winner after a deuce to seal the deal and book a place in the final after another masterclass performance. With those points, Novak secured the top-2 return for the first time since May 2017, passing Roger Federer and moving closer to Rafael Nadal.

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