Alexander Zverev Tops Novak Djokovic for ATP Finals Crown
(November 18, 2018) No. 3 Alexander Zverev beat No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 in the final of the ATP Year-End Championships at the O2 Arena in London on Sunday, giving the 21-year-old German the biggest title of his career.
Earlier in the week, Djokovic dominated Zverev 6-4, 6-1 in round robin play, but the German reversed the scoreboard on Sunday. A win for Djokovic on Sunday would have given the Serb his sixth ATP World Tour Finals trophy, which would have equaled Roger Federer. Zverev knocked Federer out of the tournament in the semifinals.
Zverev is the youngest to win the year-end tournament since Novak Djokovic in 2008 in shanghai, and the first German to claim the trophy since Boris Becker in 1995 in Frankfurt.
The match stayed tight until 4-4 in the first set, when Djokovic was broken for the first time in the tournament. Zverev held on to take the set 6-4, with a serving percentage in the high 80’s. The world No. 3 broke Djokovic’s serve again to open the second set, and third time to extend his lead.
Zverev made his debut in the ATP Finals last year.
“Right now I really can’t describe it,” Zverev said on court after the match. “I’m unbelievably happy, obviously it’s the biggest title that I’ve ever won.”
“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.”
“I’d like to thank my Dad, who has coached me all my life,” he continued on court. “He won’t stop crying until next year, probably.”
Zverev thanked his new coach tennis hall of famer Ivan Lendl and said of their partnership: “I think it’s working out for now!”
“Obviously it’s not great to lose a tennis match, especially in the finals of a big tournament,“ said Djokovic to media. “Quite disappointed with my game. But I’m happy that he won the big title because we have a really good and friendly relationship. We reside in the same place. We train a lot. We see each other a lot. He comes from a really nice family.
“As he said on the court, share a lot of on-and-off-the-court friendly and respectful moments. I mean, obviously you could see how much it means to him. Obviously he deserved it.”
“Obviously this is the biggest title of my career so far,” Zverev said in his news conference. “This trophy means a lot, everything, to all the players. I mean, you only have so many chances of winning it. You play against the best players only.
“How I played today, how I won it, for me it’s just amazing.”
Asked about what his coach said to him before the match, Zverev replied: :He didn’t do anything. He talked about golf to me before the match. No, I’m kidding.
“He obviously analyzed the match that I played with him a few days ago, told me a few things I had to do different. I was more aggressive today. I tried to take the ball earlier. Those kind of things.
“But my dad is the one that gave me the base. My dad is the one that taught me the game of tennis. I’m very thankful to him for that.
“Obviously Ivan, the experience he has on and off the court, is amazing. That helped me, as well, to kind of play the two matches that I played back-to-back now.”
Zverev is the first player to beat both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the same Year-End tournament. Zverev is also the first player to beat the Top 2 seeds in the semifinals and final of the event since Andre Agassi did it in 1990.
“Health-wise I haven’t been really perfect in the last three, four weeks,” Djokovic admitted. “That took a lot out of me.
“But at the same time I played finals of Bercy and here. I mean, I have to be happy with that result. Of course, finishing the year as No. 1, that was the goal coming into the indoor season. I managed to achieve that.
“Overall it was a phenomenal season that I have to be definitely very proud of.”
Djokovic was ranked as low as No. 22 this year, but was a force to be reckoned with after the French Open, winning the next two majors and ending the year at No. 1.
Jack Sock and Mike Bryan took the doubles crown, saving a match point, beating Nicolas Mahut and Pierre Hughes Herbert 5-7, 6-1, 13-11. For Mike Bryan it was his fifth year-end title, the other four he won with his brother Bob. Bob has been sidelined with a hip injury, so Mike paired up with Sock and together they have won Wimbledon and the US Open. Bob is returning to the tour in January.
“This is how you want to start a partnership and end one,” said Mike Bryan. “To win here is just an epic experience. To finish a great year off the right way, winning here, against some of the best teams in the world. The way we did it, went down to the wire. It was pretty exciting.
“But, yeah, unreal memories with Jack this year. Yeah, we’re kind of closing the book on our partnership because Bob is coming back. Yeah, but we’re always going to be great friends. Hang out in the off-season. We’re going to spend the off-season together training.”
“At 40 you really kind of appreciate these moments a lot more. You’re looking around trying to soak in as much of these great feelings as possible because you don’t really know if you’re ever going to feel that feeling again.
“This is all unexpected. At 40, to win two slams, finish the year like this, is totally a thrill. Took me by surprise. Just had the dream matchup with Jack. Our games kind of really meshed together. We complement each other so well out there.
“Yeah, we just rose to the big occasions, played the big tournaments well. Didn’t do much in the others, but the slams and the World Tour Finals, can’t ask for more.”
“I didn’t have a great year in singles,” Sock said. The American fell from the top ten in singles and is now in the low 100s. “But I think any success on the court is a positive. I think without the doubles success this year, I don’t know where my head would be right now mentally, where I’d feel about the sport.
“I’ve been in some low places this year. Guys like Mike, being on the court, my team, his team, my family, my friends, have tried to keep my head up and keep some positive energy around me.
“Yeah, I mean, like I said, without some of the success we’ve had, it would have been a very tough year. So, yeah, I’ll look back on 2018 and be disappointed on one side of it and obviously extremely proud and happy on the other side of it.
“Bittersweet, but I think a lot more positive and happy than negative.”