ATP Finals Day 8 Preview: Will Alexander Zverev Deny Novak Djokovic The Title? - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

Focus

ATP Finals Day 8 Preview: Will Alexander Zverev Deny Novak Djokovic The Title?

Novak Djokovic plays for his record-tying sixth championship at the ATP Finals, but a 21-year-old phenom stands in his way.

Published

on

Six months ago, Novak Djokovic even qualifying for the ATP Finals seemed nearly unfathomable.  In mid-May, he arrived in Rome with a 6-6 record on the year, having not won a Major in two years.  But in the second half of 2018, Djokovic has played some of the best tennis of his career, especially this week in London.  Since Wimbledon, he’s 35-2, with two Majors and two Masters 1,000 titles. He comes into this final having not dropped a set this week, and as per Ravi Ubha on Twitter, is vying to become the first man to win this event without losing a set since Ivan Lendl in 1986.  Regardless of the result today, Djokovic will end the year as world No.1 for the fifth time. A win today would give him an over 2,000-point lead over world No.2, Rafael Nadal, heading into 2019.

 

His opponent on Sunday is playing for the biggest title of his career.  Sascha Zverev has won nine titles in his young career, including three Masters 1,000 events.  Zverev though is yet to get to the latter stages of a Major, with only one Major quarterfinal appearance, and an ordinary 22-14 record at Grand Slam events.  A win today would be a significant next step in his career advancement. Unlike Djokovic, he’s not played his best in the past few months. Sascha’s last title came in July, and this is his first final since that time.  He advanced out of the round robin stage this week despite some instances of lackluster play, but really upped his game to take out Roger Federer in Saturday’s semifinals. He’ll need to raise his level even higher to stay with Novak on Sunday.

Novak Djokovic vs. Sascha Zverev


These two met just four days ago in round-robin play, a match which Djokovic won comfortably, dropping just five games.  Novak has all won all his matches this week without being threatened, dominating all comers. The best returner in the world is yet to have his serve broken in this tournament.  As highlighted by Enrico Maria Riva on Twitter, Djokovic has lost only 19 points this week on his first serve. And in even more terrifying news for Zverev fans, Novak has lost only 13 points on his second serve, and five of those were double faults.  If Djokovic continues to serve like that on Sunday, it’s hard to imagine Zverev having a chance.

Sascha himself served extremely well on Saturday against Federer, winning 88% of first serve points, and 64% of second serve points.  And he was really ripping his groundstrokes, moving Roger back in the court. Utilizing his power will be crucial for Zverev against Djokovic, as will getting off to a strong start.  After dropping the first set to Novak four night ago, it appeared at times he was not giving his best effort in the second. I’m confident Sascha will not do the same in the biggest final of his career today, but a victory over Djokovic when Novak is playing like this is an extremely tall order.  In a week where only one of fourteen singles matches have gone to three sets, let’s hope Zverev can at least make this an interesting and prolonged final. However, a Zverev win on Sunday would be quite a shock. Djokovic will be a heavy favorite to tie Federer with his sixth ATP Finals trophy.

 

Focus

Jelena Ostapenko lifts her first title since 2017 in Luxembourg

Published

on

Jelena Ostapenko claimed her first title since 2017 after beating defending champion and number 2 seed Julia Goerges 6-4 6-1 in the final at the BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open.

 

Ostapenko made her come-back last week by reaching the final in Linz last week. This week she lifted her third career title and her first trophy since Linz in September 2017 in the same year when she won her maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros. Ostapenko has been working with former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli during the past two weeks. The work with the former French star is reaping its fruits, as Ostapenko has scored 9 wins in 10 matches in the past two tournaments.

In the Luxembourg final the Latvian player hit six aces and won 83 % of her first serve points. Ostapenko earned her first break point in the opening game of the match. Goerges hit an ace to save a break point before holding her serve. Both players held their serve until 4-4. Ostapenko earned a double break in the ninth game. Goerges saved the first chance with a serve. Ostapenko sealed her second opportunity to take a 5-4 lead, as Ostapenko hit a forehand long. Ostapenko earned three set points with her fifth ace. She converted her first chance, as her serve was returned wide by Goerges.

Goerges held at love in the first game of the second set. Ostapenko broke twice in a row to race out to a 5-1 lead. Goerges saved the first match point with a strong serve. Ostapenko earned her second match point, as Goerges made two unforced errors, and sealed the win when the German made her double fault.

“Of course it’s great to finish the season with winning a title. I enjoyed this week so much, and I think I played really well today. I just like to finish the year this way”, said Ostapenko.

 

 

Continue Reading

Focus

Belinda Bencic claims the fourth title of her career with a three-set win over Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova in Moscow

Published

on

Belinda Bencic claimed the fourth WTA Premier title of her career with a 3-6 6-1 6-1 win over Anastasya Pavlychenkova after 1 hour and 43 minutes in the final of the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow.

 

Number 3 seed Belinda Bencic clinched her second WTA Tour title of the 2019 season one day after securing her spot for the WTA Finals in Shenzhen by beating Kristina Mladenovic in the semifinal. Last February the Swiss player lifted the trophy in Dubai.

Bencic beat Pavlyuchenkova for the fourth time in their five head-to-head matches.

In the first set Pavlyuchenkova saved two break points before earning an early break in the opening game. The Russian player closed out the first set with another break at 5-3 after a double fault from Bencic.

Bencic bounced back by getting an early break at the start of the second set. The Swiss player went up a double break to race out to a 5-1 lead forcing the match to the third set.

Bencic cruised through to a 5-0 lead with two consecutive breaks in the second and fourth games and closed out the third set 6-1 with a service winner in the seventh game.

Bencic was not initially entered in the WTA Premier tournament in Moscow and received a wildcard. During this week Bencic beat Polona Hercog and three former top 20 players Kirsten Flipkens, Kristina Mladenovic and Anastasya Pavlyuchenova

“It feels unbelievable right now. I still can’t imagine. I had no pressure going into the match. We were so happy yesterday, celebrating Shenzhen and this is the cherry on the top. This will take a special place in my heart, because here I qualified for the WTA Finals”, said Bencic.

Continue Reading

Focus

Andrey Rublev lifts his first title in Moscow on his 22nd birthday

Published

on

Local star Andrey Rublev cruised past Adrian Mannarino 6-4 6-0 in the final of the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow on his 22nd birthday in his home city.

 

Rublev claimed the second title of his career becoming the ninth Russian player to win the Moscow title in the history of this tournament. Before this year’s edition he had not won a match in his six previous attempts at the Moscow tournament

He will move up to the top 25 in the ATP Ranking for the first time in his career after a successful second half of the season in which he won 19 of his past 25 matches. The highlights of his season include the final in Hamburg, the quarter finals in Cincinnati (where he lost to Danil Medvedev), Winston Salem and St. Petersburg, the fourth round at the US Open (where he lost by semifinalist Matteo Berrettini) and the third round in Shanghai.

Rublev earned his first break in the first game after drawing a forehand error from Mannarino. The 22-year-old home player held on his next service games to claim the first set 6-4.

Rublev dropped just three points and broke serve three times in a one-sided second set. He earned three championhips points. Mannarino, who had not lost a set this week, saved the first two match points, but Rublev converted his third chance after 63 minutes.

 “I am at a loss. I can’t find the right words for what it means to me to win here. I grew up with this tournament. I spent my childhood at the VTB Kremlin Cup. I will remember this tournament and this win for many years, and I will hopefully be playing this tournament for many years down the road”, said Andrey Rublev.

Rublev has no time to rest on his laurels, as he will play against Felix Auger Aliassime in his opening match at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna next week.

Mannarino has continued his good period of form in the second half of the season in which he won the title at s’Hertogenbosh and reached the final in Zhuhai.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending