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Superb Zverev wins Nitto ATP Finals title: German young gun stuns Djokovic 6-4 6-3 to claim biggest career title

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 18 Nov 2018
  • Alexander Zverev claimed the Nitto ATP Finals title with a stunning 6-4 6-3 victory over Novak Djokovic
  • The year-end title is the biggest in Zverev's career
Alexander Zverev. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Alexander Zverev produced a sensational performance to beat Novak Djokovic 6-4 6-3, and claim his biggest career title at the Nitto ATP Finals on Sunday.

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

Zverev had lost to Djokovic fairly comprehensively in the round robin phase four days earlier, but he composed a performance of immense maturity and rich quality to avenge that loss, and become youngest player since Djokovic himself in 2008 to win the year-end title, and the first German to do so since Boris Becker in 1995.

"Right now I really can’t describe it," Zverev said after the match. "I’m unbelievably happy, obviously it’s the biggest title that I’ve ever won."

Djokovic was bidding to match Roger Federer's record of six Nitto ATP titles, and had been in tremendous form all week, moving through to the final without dropping a set, but he couldn't quite finish it off on Sunday, as he ran into an inspired opponent.

Zverev was patient from the baseline, matching Djokovic, and a lot of times, outlasting the Serbian in extended rallies, but he was also quick to employ his greater weight of shot at every opportunity, while he showed the willingness to come to the forecourt, and good skills at the net as well.

The most crucial ingredient for the win though, as had been the case in previous matches against John Isner and Roger Federer, was the serve.

The German was almost immaculate from the line in the opening set, serving at 88%, and at an average of 135mph. Djokovic is revered as one of the greatest returners in the history of the sport, but not even the great Serbian could lay a finger on Zverev's serve in that opening set, with the German winning 18 of 21 points on his first serve, and 2 of 3 on his second.

Djokovic, on his part, had also been serving superbly, and hadn't dropped serve all week. It was therefore no surprise when the first eight games went with serve. 

It was at the exact same point in the aforementioned group stage meeting that the first cracks began to appear in Zverev's game, when he missed two break points in the ninth game, and won just one more game in the remainder of the match, but the German wasn't about to let that happen for a second time.

Djokovic sent a forehand long to give up the first break point of the match at 4-4, and the Serbian dropped his serve for the first time this week when he sent another tentative forehand into the net.

Zverev closed out the set in emphatic fashion, sending down three consecutive aces to bring up set points, and converting on the second set point when Djokovic's leaky forehand misfired yet again.

Alexander Zverev was too good for Novak Djokovic on Sunday. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
With Djokovic still reeling from the loss of that opening set, Zverev applied early pressure in the second set, looking to ram home the advantage. The German shanked a forehand return on a first break point, but he made no mistake from that wing on a second, stepping in to strike an inside-in forehand winner after another patient, lengthy exchange.

However, having worked so hard to establish such a commanding position, Zverev's level dropped for the first time in the match, as he donated the break back to Djokovic, via a couple of double faults, and two backhand errors, the second a wild swing down the line that flew well wide on break point.

The 21-year-old recalibrated his radar in the next game, sticking to that patient but positive approach that had worked so well in the first set. He won one of such long duels to get to 15-30, and a weary-looking Djokovic attempted a bailout drop shot on the next point, but could only find the net. An umpteenth forehand error from the world No. 1 granted Zverev the break for the 2-1 lead.

The first three games of the second set went against serve, but both men held serve for the next five games, until Djokovic stepped up to serve to stay in the match at 3-5. The Serbian Djokovic delivered another loose game, and Zverev pounced, sealing the biggest win of his career with a stupendous backhand pass down the line on his second match point.

"He had big serves. I wasn't returning well," Djokovic reflected. "I wasn't making him move too much. I was making way too many unforced errors”.

"From 4-4 in the first set, my game fell apart. But if we put things in perspective it has been an amazing year and a great comeback."

Djokovic might not have won the London title, but it’s still been a stunning year, during which he rose from outside the top 20 to secure the year-end No. 1 ranking. The season arguably belongs to the Serbian, but this night is for Zverev, who finishes 2018 with a tour-leading 58 match wins, and ends the year at No. 4 in the world for the second season running. On this evidence, it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t win bigger titles in the nearest future- bigger titles meaning Grand Slams.

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Superb Zverev wins Nitto ATP Finals title: German young gun stuns Djokovic 6-4 6-3 to claim biggest career title

Alexander Zverev claimed his biggest career title after a sensational 6-4 6-3 victory over Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

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