Alexander Zverev won the season ending ATP finals championship title with a straight set win over the top ranked Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 20 minutes.
It was the biggest title of his career and his first win over a reigning World Number 1 and came on the heels of his semifinal win over the second seed Roger Federer on Saturday. In the process the 21-year-old became the first German to lift the title since Boris Becker in 1995 and completed the rare double of beating Federer and Djokovic in the same tournament.
The ATP finals event features the Top 8 players in singles and doubles and Djokovic had beaten Zverev at the group stages but came out at the receiving end in the final where he was looking to tie Federer with 6 titles at the year-end tournament.
The match started on even terms as both players comfortably held serve in the first 8 games. Then Djokovic’s serve faltered under pressure from the big hitting German. The Serbian made two forehand errors to drop his serve for the first time in the tournament. Zverev who has recently added Ivan Lendl to his coaching team came up with three straight aces while serving for the set and that excellent serving helped him close out the set at 6-4.
Djokovic’s feature of his game had been winning the long rallies and the big points but Zverev managed to get the better of the Serb in some crucial rallies to take an early break in the second set. But some nerves cropped up and he gifted Djokovic the break back with 2 double faults and 2 backhand errors. However Zverev stayed tough winning another lengthy rally to eventually regain the lead at 2-1. In the next game, Zverev started tardily and was down 0-30. At this point, he came up with a terrific timed foray to the net and pulled off a terrific volley to close the gap. Eventually he held on to lead 3-1.
Djokovic maintained the pressure to stay close at 3-4. Zverev continued his good play to lead 5-3. Serving to stay in the match, Djokovic cracked under pressure from the Zverev backhand. Zverev managed to find his forehand with more regularity and was able to draw more errors. On championship point, Zverev nailed a terrific backhand pass winner over a net rushing Djokovic and collapsed to the ground in celebration of his first win at the season ending event. Zverev finishes fourth in the year end rankings after earning 1300 points while Djokovic regained the top ranking from Rafael Nadal who had an injury plagued season having played only nine events in the whole year. Federer slipped one spot to third from 2017 year end placing.
During his victory speech, Zverev paid tribute to his father and also new coaching addition Ivan Lendl. “I’ve said that my dad might be the best coach in tennis and I really mean it. He’s not gonna stop crying until next year probably but that’s fine. Thanks Ivan for joining the team. It’s working out Ok now and I hope it continues that way.” He complimented Djokovic for his comeback to No.1 in the rankings, “I’d like to congratulate Novak on a great week and the second half of the season. You’ve barely lost a match and I’m actually very thankful you lost to me today.”
Zverev explained his mentality in the final, “I just tried to go out there and enjoy the match as much as I can, enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the moment. That’s what I did. My serve has been working well the whole week. I had a lot of confidence in it. It all worked out well.”
The American doubles team of Mike Bryan and Jack Sock saved a match point in the Match tiebreaker to beat Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 5-7, 6-1, 13-11 for their first ATP Finals doubles title together. The pairing also won two Slams together at Wimbledon and the U.S Open after joining forces due to Bob Bryan’s injury.