Alexander Zverev on Novak Djokovic: ‘We need many hours to finish every match’

Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic met five times in 2021, with three wins for the Serb and two for the German. Novak defeated Alexander at the Australian Open and the US Open, while the youngster halted the world’s leading player at the Olympic Games and the ATP Finals. Zverev and Djokovic had a couple of memorable encounters, and the most recent one came on Saturday when they battled for a place in the ATP Finals title match. After two and a half hours, Zverev overpowered Djokovic 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, advancing into the second ATP Finals title match and leaving Novak without the trophy at the premium ATP event for the sixth straight season. 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 serve. Both players fended off three out of four break chances and blasted 29 aces combined to use the fast surface and stay neck and neck.

Zverev kept his coolness throughout the encounter, hitting only one double fault and enduring thrilling rallies to emerge at the top and remain on the title course. Alexander hit 35 winners and 24 unforced errors and bested Novak in the most extended exchanges to cross the finish line first. In one of the pivotal moments, Zverev blasted a powerful serve to fend off a set chance at 4-5 in the opener and bring the game home after Djokovic’s backhand mistake. Novak faced two break points in the 11th game and erased them with two winners to stay in touch until the 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 and hoping for more in the rest of the encounter.

Alexander Zverev defeated Novak Djokovic in the ATP Finals semi-final.

There was nothing to separate them until 4-4 in the second set, and Djokovic grabbed the first break with a deep return that pushed him in front. Novak served for the set and seized the fifth set point with an ace that introduced a decider after an hour and 45 minutes and gave the crowd more to cheer about. 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 saved a break point 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 and set the title clash versus 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.

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