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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Roger Federer Survives Millman Scare To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round

Roger Federer reached the Australian Open fourth round for the 18th time in his career after battling past John Millman.

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Roger Federer (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Roger Federer survived a massive scare to edge out John Millman 4-6 7-6(3) 6-4 4-6 7-6(8) to reach the Australian Open fourth round. 

 

The Swiss maestro won the last five points of the last set tiebreak to survive a scare from a spirited John Millman to reach the second week at the Australian Open for the 18th time.

As a result of the four hour win, Federer also seals his 100th Australian Open victory in what was a dramatic battle to end a crazy day.

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1220705691700084736

Marton Fucsovics awaits Federer next after the Hungarian’s win over Tommy Paul.

The last time Roger Federer played his Australian opponent in a grand slam, he was beaten on a hot evening in New York and there were early signs that lightning was about to strike.

Crisp, clean hitting saw Millman trouble the 20-time grand slam champion early as he moved well around the court as well as serving big.

A 4-1 lead was consumed by the Aussie as the warning signs started to ring for Federer. Meanwhile the 3rd seed struggled to find consistency with the forehand as he took a while to tactically figure out Miilman.

Although Federer managed to take advantage of his opponent’s nerves to get the break back, a loose and uncharacteristic game from Federer sealed the opening set for Millman 6-4.

There was more clutch serving and big-hitting in the second set as the world number 47 continued to play some solid tennis.

However the 38 year-old Swiss produced a much better second set as he came to the net to finish points off quicker and took the match to Millman.

The only break point of the set saw the Australian hold off Federer as the second set tiebreak loomed. Champions turn up when they need to and despite Millman’s great start, the Swiss took control and dominated the tiebreak with some sensational shots.

It was one set all and six-time champion was feeling energetic and full of life again. This energy translated into the third set as Federer used his experience to increase the pressure and intensity.

Even though it wasn’t the best day at the office for him, Federer was still able to produce his best tennis when it mattered.

However Millman, incredibly, was able to match it at times and produced a few sensational points to hold from break point down to level at 4-4.

Eventually the Australian’s resolve was broken and a rare unforced error sealed a two sets to one lead for the 2018 champion who was still furious at himself.

Even though Federer had taken control, he wasn’t playing his best tennis as his forehand was becoming a liability with 16 unforced errors occurring in the fourth set.

Meanwhile Millman seemed energised as he was moving around the court and defending the ball like his life depended on it.

A break in the seventh game was enough as Millman ensured that late night drama would happen on a Friday night in Melbourne as he sealed the fourth set.

The momentum was with the Australian as he broke in the third game with some stunning returning before Federer immediately broke back in what was a tense contest.

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1220691193408999426

Both men was struggling to find the consistency needed to dominate the final set as Federer struggled to break his opponent down.

Two good opportunities to seal the crucial break came and went for Millman as some clutch serving ensured Federer continued to survive in this contest.

As the match continued, Federer’s forehand unforced errors continued to mount and cost him in big moments under pressure.

Nobody could find the breakthrough needed, so a 10 point tiebreak would be played out to decide the winner. In the end it was Millman who played the more controlled and dominating tennis to secure a historic win and a place in the fourth round.

After the match, Federer praised Millman’s efforts, “Where to start … John played a great match, he’s a great fighter, a great guy and it came down to the wire. Maybe a bit of luck. I had to stay so focused to make the right decisions. What a match, John deserves over half of this one,” Federer said in his on-court interview.

In the end, experience paid dividends for Federer as he came back from 8-4 down in the tiebreak to survive a huge test and win the last six points of the tiebreak to book his place in the second week of the Australian Open.

Next up for Federer is Marton Fucsovics on Sunday.

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Australian Open Day 5 Preview: Five Must-See Matches

Friday will be highlighted by two of the sport’s brightest young stars meeting for the second consecutive Major.

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At the US Open last summer, Naomi Osaka easily dispatched of 15-year-old Coco Gauff. But it’s what happened after the match that warmed the hearts of the tennis world. Seeing her younger opponent was upset after the loss, Osaka encouraged Gauff to join her for the post-match interview, in a touching display of kindness. Five months later, Is Coco ready to compete with Naomi? That’s only one of many appetizing third round matches today. Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Ash Barty, and the retiring Caroline Wozniacki will also be in action.

 

Naomi Osaka (3) vs. Coco Gauff

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Gauff only managed to take three games from Osaka in New York. And she struggled at times against Sorana Cirstea two days ago, squeaking out a victory 7-5 in the third. But I think she’ll be much more ready for the challenge of playing Osaka today. Since their US Open match, Gauff won her first title in Linz, and spent time training in the offseason with Serena Williams. However, no one has played better since the US Open than Osaka. She’s won 16 of her last 17 matches, claiming titles in both Osaka and Beijing. While I expect a more competitive match between these two today, Naomi remains the favorite.

Stefanos Tsitsipas (6) vs. Milos Raonic (32)

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Both men should be fully fresh for their first career meeting. Neither has dropped a set through two rounds, and Tsitsipas received a walkover on Wednesday as Philipp Kohlschreiber retired with a back injury. The 29-year-old Canadian has battled a plethora of injuries throughout his career, and again missed significant time in 2019. But he’s managed to perform very well at this event despite the injuries, reaching the quarterfinals or better in four of the last five years. While Tsitsipas is coming off the biggest title of his career at the ATP Finals, he went just 1-2 at the ATP Cup, and is only 1-3 in his last four matches at Majors. In what could easily become an extended affair, I’m tipping Raonic to continue serving well and pull off the slight upset.

Roberto Bautista Agut (9) vs. Marin Cilic

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This is a rematch from last year’s Australian Open, which Bautista Agut won in four hours and five sets. That was the third of three five-set wins for the Spaniard here a year ago, as he also outlasted Andy Murray and John Millman. That was the start of Roberto’s best season to date, reaching the quarterfinals here and the semifinals at Wimbledon. By contrast, 2019 was Cilic’s worst season since his drug suspension in 2013. Marin has crumbled in pressure situations all too often, though he showed some great grit by taking out Benoit Paire in a fifth set tiebreak on Wednesday. But that had to take a lot out of Cilic, and he’s now faced with one of the ATP’s strongest competitors. Bautista Agut has won his last 10 matches, dating back to the Davis Cup in November. He should be favored to extend his winning streak to 11.

Petra Kvitova (7) vs. Ekaterina Alexandrova

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It’s the 2019 finalist against one of the hottest players on tour. The 25-year-old Alexandrova is on a 12-match winning streak, including her ITF title run last month at Limoges and her first WTA-level title two weeks ago in Shenzhen. She’s now the Russian No.1, and looking to reach the fourth round of a Major for the first time. Kvitova survived a tight match two days ago against another up-and-coming player, Paula Badosa of Spain. Petra fought through hot and windy conditions in that match, and she’ll be pleased to find the weather cooler and calmer today. In their first career meeting, Kvitova should be able to control play and advance to the Australian Open round of 16 for the fourth time.

Roger Federer (3) vs. John Millman

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At the 2018 US Open, Millman took advantage of Federer’s suffering in extremely hot and muggy conditions, defeating Roger in four sets. That victory propelled the 30-year-old Millman to his first Major quarterfinal. John would struggle mightily over the next 12 months under the weight of new expectations, but finally rediscovered some confidence after last year’s US Open. He won a challenger event in Taiwan, and was a finalist at the ATP event in Tokyo. And Millman already has six match wins in 2020, with notable victories over Felix Auger Aliassime and Karen Khachanov. All that being said, he’ll still be a considerable underdog against the 20-time Major singles champion. Federer took both of their other previous meetings, and looked extremely sharp in his first two matches here. As Chris Fowler of ESPN highlighted, Roger has broken his opponent’s serve at the beginning of all six sets he’s played this week. Despite the lack of a warmup event, Federer is in fine form, and should advance comfortably against an opponent like Millman who does not possess any big weapons.

Other notable matches on Day 5:

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  • Serena Williams (8), who displayed intense anger with her form on Wednesday, vs. Qiang Wang (27), who lasted only 44 minutes against Serena at last year’s US Open in a 6-1, 6-0 pummeling.
  • Novak Djokovic (2), who lead Serbia to the ATP Cup two weeks ago, vs. Yoshihito Nishioka, who has reached the third round of a Major for the first time.
  • Australian Ash Barty (1) vs. Russian teenager Elena Rybakina (29), who won a total of 57 matches at all levels last season.
  • Diego Schwartzman (14) vs. Dusan Lajovic (24). When they played in Melbourne two years ago, Schwartzman survived 11-9 in the fifth.
  • Caroline Wozniacki, who pulled off impressive comebacks in both sets against Dayana Yastremska in the second round, vs. Ons Jabeur, who loves utilizing the slice against her opponents.

Order of play

Rod Laver Arena

A. Barty (1) versus E. Rybakina (29) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
Q. Wang (27) versus S. Williams (8) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
Y. Nishioka versus N. Djokovic (2) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
N. Osaka (3) versus C. Gauff Women’s Singles 3rd Round
J. Millman versus R. Federer (3) Men’s Singles 3rd Round

Margaret Court Arena

D. Schwartzman (14) versus D. Lajovic (24) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
E. Alexandrova (25) versus P. Kvitova (7) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
M. Keys (10) versus M. Sakkari (22) Women’s Singles 3rd Round
S. Tsitsipas (6) versus M. Raonic (32) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
S. Zhang versus S. Kenin (14) Women’s Singles 3rd Round

Melbourne Arena

L. Hewitt (WC) J. Thompson (WC) versus J. Nam (WC) M. Song (WC) Men’s Doubles 1st Round
O. Jabeur versus C. Wozniacki Women’s Singles 3rd Round
M. Cilic versus R. Bautista Agut (9) Men’s Singles 3rd Round
G. Pella (22) versus F. Fognini (12) Men’s Singles 3rd Round

1573 Arena

D. Jakupovic R. Olaru versus T. Babos (2) K. Mladenovic (2) Women’s Doubles 1st Round
M. Fucsovics versus T. Paul Men’s Singles 3rd Round
A. Riske (18) versus J. Goerges Women’s Singles 3rd Round
T. Sandgren versus S. Querrey Men’s Singles 3rd Round

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Karolina Pliskova gets through to the third round

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Karolina Pliskova beat Laura Siegemund 6-3 6-3 after 86 minutes. Siegemund went up an early break to take a 3-1 lead, but Halep came back by winning five consecutive games to win the first set 6-3.

 

Pliskova earned an early break at the start of the second set and won a long fifth game to come two games away from the win. Siegemund fended off a break point at 1-4 and held a break point in the sixth game. Pliskova fended it off and held on her serve to secure her spot in the third round on her third match point.

“I am not sure if it was really nice tennis today. I think she has a very ugly game for me, so I am never going to feel amazing playing her. I am just happy to be through because this was an ugly match for me. Last time we played was on clay, so I am just happy I am through and hopefully I can feel better in my next round”,said Pliskova.

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