Everything You Need To Know About Novak Djokovic’s Clash With Zverev At The ATP Finals - UBITENNIS
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Everything You Need To Know About Novak Djokovic’s Clash With Zverev At The ATP Finals

Ubitennis’ ultimate guide to finals day at the 2018 ATP Finals in London.

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After 14 matches played at the season-ending finale, two players will lock horns for the chance to secure victory at the season-ending championships in London.

Novak Djokovic takes on Alexander Zverev in what will be their fourth meeting on the tour. The world No.1 has won 35 out of 37 matches since the start of the Wimbledon Championships and is 14-0 against top 10 opposition. Meanwhile, Zverev will be playing in his first final since the Washington Open and is targeting his first ever win over a world No.1 player.

Here is everything to know about Sunday’s clash.

The Head-to-head

For the 18th time in the history of the ATP Finals, two players will play each other in the final after squaring off in the round-robin stages. Djokovic leads their head-to-head 2-1, winning both of their meetings in 2018. Zverev’s only victory occurred on the clay at the 2017 Italian Open, where he won his maiden Masters title.

The two players are yet to play a match that has gone the full distance.

2018 ATP Finals Round-robin – Djokovic wins 6-4, 6-3

2018 Shanghai Masters – Djokovic wins 6-2, 6-1

2017 Italian Open – Zverev wins 6-4, 6-1

How have they performed so far this week?

Djokovic leads his rival in seven out of the 10 key areas concerning their performance in the first four matches played at The O2 Arena this week. Zverev’s strongest area has been his ace count, which is 42 compared to Djokovic’s 16. Even more interesting is that his break point conversion rate is higher at 50% (5/10), compared to 39% (12/31) for the top seed.

Summary of the first four matches

source – atpworldtour.com

What have they said about playing against each other?

Both men have been complementary to each other heading into the clash. Djokovic has described Zverev as an ‘established player’ that deserves to be among the world’s elite. The German is the first and so far the only member of the current Next Gen contingent to have featured in the season finale.

“I’m expecting quite a different matchup for us than what it was in the group stage. Even though the win in the group stage against him a few days ago can definitely serve as kind of maybe a mental advantage a little bit coming into the match.” He said.
“But Sascha, even though he’s a leader of the new generation, still kind of considered a young player, he’s an established player. He’s shown some great skill on the court the last couple of years. He’s shown why he deserves to be in the mix of the top players in the world.”

Since winning the Wimbledon title, the Serbian has only lost twice. Coincidentally they were to other rising stars on the tour. In Canada, he fell to Stefanos Tsitsipas before losing to Karen Khachanov in Paris.

“Novak right now is the best player in the world. It’s very tough to beat him. He’s barely lost a match in the last six months. He’s playing amazing tennis. You have to play your best game to even have a chance. I hope I’ll be able to do that.” Said Zverev.

Experience Vs Youth

At the age of 31, Djokovic could become the oldest champion in the history of the event. Surpassing the previous record of 30 years and three months that is held by Roger Federer. It is the seventh time the Serbian has contested the final of the year-end championships.

In contrast, 21-year-old Zverev is the youngest finalist since Juan Martin del Potro back in 2009. The Next Gen star is the only player in history, other than the Big Four, to have three or more Masters 1000 titles. He could become the youngest champion since 2008 when Djokovic triumphed at the same age.

Federer’s record under threat

Djokovic, who is yet to drop a set in the entire tournament, has the chance of becoming only the second player in history to win the ATP Finals for the sixth time. The world No.1 has previously triumphed in 2008, before dominating the event between 2012-2015.

At present, Djokovic is tied with Ivan Lendl and Pete Sampras with most titles won at the event (5). He is also the only player to have ever won the event four years in a row.

Serbia Vs Germany

Zverev is the first player from his country to reach the championships match since Boris Becker back in 1996. Only two German players have previously won the title. Becker (1988, 1992 and 1995) and Michael Stitch (1993).

As for Djokovic, he is one of only two Serbian players to have ever contested the tournament (since the break-up of Yugoslavia). The other is Janko Tipsarevic (2011 and 2012).

What will they win?

In the final alone, the victor will be handed $1,280,000 in prize money and 500 ranking points. However, due to the fact Djokovic is yet to lose a match, his overall reward will be higher than Zverev’s.

  • A Djokovic win = $2,712,000 in prize money plus 1500 ranking points
  • A Zverev win = $2,509,000 in prize money plus 1300 ranking points

Regardless of who wins, it will have no impact on the overall ranking of both players.

The final will get underway on Sunday at 18:00 GMT.

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Bianca Andreescu becomes the youngest WTA Premier Mandatory champion at Indian Wells

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Canadian 18-year-old Bianca Andreescu edged past Angelique Kerber 6-4 3-6 6-4 to become the youngest WTA Premier Mandatory champion and the fourth youngest winner at Indian Wells behind Martina Hingis, Serena Williams and Monica Seles.

Bianca Andreescu has won her maiden WTA title. With this win she has won 28 of her 31 matches this season and becomes the first wild-card to win the Indian Wells title.

Andreescu started the first set with an immediate break on her fourth break point chance in the opening game after Kerber’s second double fault. The Canadian teenager held her serve with a hold of serve at 15 to open up a 2-0 lead.

In the third game Andreescu hit a forehand slice to draw level to 30-30, but Kerber held her serve for 1-2, as Andreescu sent her forehand wide.

Andreescu held her serve at 30 in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. The teenager got to 30-all on Kerber’s serve, but the German player hit a big forehand and held her serve for 2-3. In the sixth game Andreescu hit a forehand winner to earn a game point and held her serve with her first ace. Andreescu made a double fault at 30-15 in the 10th game but she held her serve to close out the first set 6-4 in 40 minutes. Kerber won all her points on her second serve, compared to Kerber’s 55%. The German player made 14 unforced errors in the first set.

In the second set Andreeu got to 30-30, but she hit her backhand into the net to hold serve for 1-1. In the best game of the match Kerber saved two break points to hold her serve for 2-1. Andreescu battled hard to hold her serve but Kerber came back from 30-40 down to convert her only break point of the set after two deuces thanks to a forehand error from Andreescu. The player consolidated the break with a hold at 30 to open up a 4-1 lead. Kerber held her next service games to close out the second set 6-3.

Andreescu opened the third set with a hold at 30 to take a 1-0 lead. The Canadian held serve in the third game at deuce for 2-1, but she missed a chance for a break point, when she netted a short forehand. Andreescu required medical treatment on her arm after the third game.

Kerber converted her second break point to take a 3-2 lead, when Andreescu hit a shot into the net. Andreescu broke straight back at 15 to draw level to 3-3 and held serve at love for 4-3. The Canadian got the second consecutive break on her second break point chance in the eighth game to earn her chance to serve for the match, but Kerber saved three championship points to break back in the ninth game on return at deuce, when Andreescu hit her drop-shot into the net.

Andreescu closed out the match with another break in the 10th game on her fourth championhip point. She hit a forehand winner at 30-30 and closed out the match, when Kerber hit the net, and fell to the ground in celebration.

“I would like to congratulate Angelique Kerber for an amazing tournament. It was amazing to share the court with you today. You are an incredible champion and an inspiration. Hopefully this moment can be an inspiration for many young athletes because, like I always say, if you believe in yourself anything is possible. My mother told me throughout the years ‘if you work hard, you dream to get big. Then you can accomplish so many things and that’s what I’ve been doing throughout. This moment has become a reality and it’s really crazy. To my team – thank you for being there for me throughout so many years. It’s really means so much to share this moment right now”, said Andreescu.

 Angelique Kerber congratulated with Andreescu on her amazing week in the post match speech.

“I would like to say congratulations to Bianca for your unbelievable tournament, for your win here. You played amazing during the whole tournament and you really deserved to win the title”, said Kerber.

 

 

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Rafael Nadal Withdraws From Federer Clash With Knee Injury, Withdraws From Miami

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from his BNP Paribas Open semi-final with Roger Federer due to a knee injury.

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Rafael Nadal (@BNPPARIBASOPEN - Twitter)

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from his Indian Wells semi-final with Roger Federer after suffering a right knee injury.

The Spaniard injured his during his 7-6(2) 7-6(2) win over Karen Khachanov in the quarter-finals. As a result he has also withdrawn from next week’s Miami Open.

It was reported that Nadal had a 15 minute practice before a 10 minute conversation with his team where they made the decision to withdraw from the semi-final.

After the announcement Nadal emphasised his disappointment at the withdrawal, “I wanted to try my best to be competitive, but during the warmup I felt my knee was not good enough for the level I need to play,” Nadal explained.

“It’s tough for me to accept all these things that I’m going through in my career. Sometimes I feel sad because I’m in a disadvantage to all my opponents. 

[I need to] be positive and grateful for all the things tennis has given to me. I feel fortunate for all the things I’ve done in my life and the world of tennis.”

It is a bitterly disappointing setback for Nadal who would’ve been hoping to close the gap between him and Novak Djokovic at the top of the rankings.

Next for the Spaniard will be Monte-Carlo in mid-April after also announcing his withdrawal from next week’s Miami Open, “The plan for the clay season is Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Madrid, Roma and Roland Garros. That has been my calendar throughout my career and I hope to be able to complete it one more time.”

As for Roger Federer, he will now play either Dominic Thiem or Milos Raonic in tomorrow’s final as he looks to win his sixth title in California.

 

 

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Indian Wells Day 13 Preview: The Men’s Semi-Finals

It will be Roger Federer against Rafael Nadal for the 39th time in the BNP Paribas Open Semi-Finals… or will it be?

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Roger Federer (@BNPPARIBASOPEN - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf

During his semi-final yesterday against Karen Khachanov, Rafa aggravated the knee tendinitis that has plagued his hard court tennis in recent years. He was still able to finish off the dangerous Russian, but even Nadal himself admits he won’t know how his knee will be for this match until he wakes up today. It’s entirely possible he may retire from yet another hard court tournament. Assuming he is able to play, we’re in for a rekindling of tennis’ most historic rivalry. The other men’s semi-final will feature two men who have advanced to finals at both Grand Slam and Masters 1,000 events, but are yet to win one.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Roger Federer (4)

Rafael Nadal (@BNPPARIBASOPEN – Twitter)

This will be their first match since the Shanghai Masters in October of 2018, nearly a year-and-a-half ago. Nadal holds an overall 23-15 edge in their head-to-head, but he hasn’t defeated Federer in over five years, by far the longest stretch in this rivalry without a Rafa victory since they first met 15 years ago this month. Roger has won all of their five most recent meetings, all of which have been played on hard courts. That run started at the 2015 Basel event.

It famously continued in the 2017 Australian Open final, which is really the match that turned this rivalry around.  Federer came back from down a break in the fifth to beat his toughest opponent. The bigger racquet face he changed to during an injury layoff in 2016 played a significant role. Roger went on to beat Rafa at this tournament two years ago, and then again two weeks later in the Miami final.

Their last three matches have all been straight set wins for Federer, ever since that Australian Open final. Both men have advanced to this semi-final without dropping a set, with Federer only losing his serve once in four matches. Roger has looked exceptionally sharp, and is on a 9-match win streak coming off his 100th career title in Dubai two weeks ago. Considering their recent history, the court surface, and Nadal’s knee, Federer is the favourite to reach his 9th Indian Wells final.

Dominic Thiem (7) vs. Milos Raonic (13)

Dominic Thiem (@OanaVancea – Twitter)

Both of these men should be fully rested ahead of this semi-final.  Unlike Nadal and Federer, they got a day off between their quarterfinal and semi-final matches. And Thiem got Thursday off as well when Gael Monfils withdrew from their quarterfinal. Dominic didn’t lose a set in his other three matches at this tournament, while Milos only dropped one in four matches.

Raonic is yet to face a seeded player at this event, but he’s 2-0 lifetime against Thiem. Both of those matches were on hard courts, and Milos took both in straight sets. Thiem though is a much-improved hard court player since they last met in 2016, and he’ll prefer the slower hard court in Indian Wells. However, Raonic has achieved much more previous success in the desert than Thiem. This is the first Indian Wells semi-final for Dominic, while Milos has advanced this far in all of his last four appearances. I like the big-serving Canadian’s chances to reach his second final in tennis paradise.

Other notable matches on Day 13:

Marcelo Melo and Lukasz Kubot (@ESPNtenis – Twitter)

In the women’s doubles final, the best team in the world, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1), vs. two top 15 singles players, Elise Mertens and Aryna Sabalenka.

In the men’s doubles final, an established team of Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo (6) vs. a newly-formed team of Nikola Mektic and Horacio Zeballos.

 

 

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