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Djokovic vs Anderson Nitto ATP Finals Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Imperious Djokovic seeks seventh straight victory over Anderson

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 16 Nov 2018
  • Novak Djokovic vs Kevin Anderson is live from London on Saturday, 17 November, from 9:00pm local time/ 8:00pm GMT
  • Anderson won their first match in 2008, but Djokovic has since won six in a row
Novak Djokovic. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

World No. 1, Novak Djokovic continues his quest for a record-equaling sixth Nitto ATP Finals title when he takes on South Africa's Kevin Anderson in the semifinals on Saturday.

Djokovic is a five-time champion at the year-end Finals, and has reached at least the final in each of his last five appearances. The Serbian won four consecutive titles between 2012 and 2015, but his winning streak was halted in 2016, when he lost the championship match to Andy Murray.

Djokovic missed the season-ending finale last year, as he struggled with an elbow injury, but he has returned with a bang in 2018, winning all three group matches to advance to the semi-finals for the eighth time overall.

Qualification for the Nitto ATP Finals had seemed a distant prospect when Djokovic had elbow surgery in January, and stuttered to a 6-6 record in May, but the Serbian has undergone a spectacular turnaround, rocketing from outside the top 20 to regain the world No. 1 ranking. Regardless of whatever else happens this weekend, he is already guaranteed to finish the year at No. 1, becoming the first man to claim the year-end top ranking after being outside the top 20 at some point during the calendar year.

Djokovic has been on a tremendous 34-2 run since Wimbledon, claiming titles at the All England Club, Cincinnati, the US Open, and Shanghai. Those two losses were against Stefanos Tsitsipas in Toronto, and against Karen Khachanov in the Paris Masters final, halting the Serbian's 22-match winning streak.

He was far too good for John Isner in his opening match at the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals, blunting the American's big serve in a 6-4 6-3 victory, while he followed that up with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Alexander Zverev in his second group match. The world No. 1 saved two break points at 4-4 in a tight first set, but he broke for the set in the next game, and with it, broke Zverev's resistance as he ran away with the match after that.

Already guaranteed top spot in Group Guga Kuerten before taking to the court for his final group match against Marin Cilic, Djokovic polished off his round robin campaign with a 7-6 6-2 victory over the Croatian. Cilic played very well, especially in the opening set when he swung freely at Djokovic, but the Serbian stood his ground. While Djokovic couldn’t make in-roads on Cilic’s serve in that opening set, he was sensational behind his own deliveries, winning a staggering 100% of points on his first serve, and an equally mind-blowing 86% of second serve points. Djokovic was above 90% of points won on both first and second serves for the match, winning 28 of 31 points on his first serve, and an unbelievable 20 of 22 points on his second serve.

With serving like that, and his famed returning, it was only a matter of time before Cilic crumbled. The world number seven matched Djokovic for most of the opening set, and even had a set point at 6-5 in the tie break, but Djokovic saw off the danger, before going on to take the breaker 9-7. Predictably, Cilic’s resistance slowly faded, and Djokovic accelerated to victory, much like he did against Zverev, winning the last four games of the match. 

The Serbian is in ominous form, and South Africa’s Kevin Anderson has got the unenviable task of trying to stop the world No. 1.


Anderson has looked very comfortable on the London stage in his tournament debut, opening with a confident 6-3 7-6 victory over Dominic Thiem before dismantling Kei Nishikori 6-0 6-1 in a match he described as one of the best in his career. 

Kevin Anderson. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
The serve obviously played a big role in the dominant win, but also very evident was his improved ground game, as he stayed with Nishikori from the back of the court, luring the erratic Japanese into uncharacteristic errors. Anderson hit 15 winners and 12 unforced errors, while Nishikori had just 10 winners, and sprayed 24 errors around the O2.

By the time Anderson stepped up to take on an improving Federer in his final group match, he had already qualified for semi-finals, but top spot in Group Lleyton Hewitt was still up for grabs. The South African, who had scored a superb win over Federer in the quarter finals at Wimbledon, could not repeat those heroics, as the great Swiss eased to a 6-4 6-3 win.

Speaking of heroics, Anderson had quite a few of those in 2018. The world number six followed up his epic win over Federer at Wimbledon with another one for the ages, outlasting John Isner in a six-and-a-half-hour marathon to reach the Wimbledon final- which he lost to Djokovic.

2018 also marked the first time Anderson claimed multiple titles in a single season, having already won titles in New York and Vienna, the latter being his first at ATP 500 level, while he also made finals in Pune and Acapulco in a superb year.

Anderson has beaten Djokovic once before, in their first ever meeting in Miami back in 2008, but Djokovic has won all six reunions since them, dropping just two sets- both at Wimbledon in 2015, when the Serbian came back from two sets down to win in five sets. They have crossed paths just once since then, in Shanghai a few weeks ago; Djokovic winning 7-6 6-1.

For all the improvements Anderson has made in other areas of game, the serve remains the most crucial component, and that shot has got to be at its very best if he is to stand any chance against one of the finest returners in the history of the sport. Anderson has got to be positive and aggressive behind his serve, coming to the net whenever the opportunity arises, as he is unlikely to get much joy in extended rallies.

As well as Anderson has played this year, and in this tournament in particular, Djokovic has been on another level, and he is looking unbeatable at the moment. It will take a monumental effort from Anderson to dislodge the Serbian on Saturday.

Novak Djokovic vs Kevin Anderson is live from London on Saturday, 17 November, from 9:00pm local time/ 8:00pm GMT

*Geo-restrictions apply; funded account required or to have placed a bet in the last 24 hours to qualify


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Djokovic vs Anderson Nitto ATP Finals Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Imperious Djokovic seeks seventh straight victory over Anderson

Novak Djokovic continues his quest for a record-equaling sixth Nitto ATP Finals title when he takes on Kevin Anderson on Saturday. Will Djokovic extend his winning streak over the South African? Read our preview, predictions and stream the match live online.

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