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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Tokyo Olympics Daily Preview: Sascha Zverev and Karen Khachanov Play for Gold

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Karen Khachanov celebrating victory earlier this week in Tokyo (twitter.com/ITFTennis)

48 hours after ending Novak Djokovic’s bid for a Golden Slam, a feat only achieved by German Steffi Graf, Sascha Zverev looks to win another gold medal for Germany.  But a big-hitting Russian stands in his way, one who owns a winning record against Zverev on hard courts.

 

The last day of tennis in Tokyo will also host two gold medal matches in doubles.  In women’s doubles, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova have won three Majors, and now go for a gold medal against Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic.  For Bencic, it’s an opportunity to win a second gold medal in as many days.  

In addition, a pair of teams representing the Russian Olympic Committee will face off for gold in mixed doubles.  Will Elena Vesnina be able to recover from a devastating loss in Saturday’s women’s doubles bronze medal match?  Vesnina and Veronika Kudermetova held four match points, only to lose the last six points of the match and fail to reach the podium.

Sunday’s play gets underway at 3:00pm local time.

Sascha Zverev (4) [GER] vs. Karen Khachanov (12) [ROC] – Second on Centre Court

Overall they have split four previous encounters, but Khachanov leads 2-1 on this surface, which includes their two most recent meetings.  And neither of those have been close.  At the 2018 Paris Masters, it was 6-1, 6-2.  At the 2019 Rogers Cup, it was 6-3, 6-3.  The event in Paris was the biggest title run of the Russian’s career, and a week where he also defeated Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic.  However, he hasn’t won a title, or even reached a final, ever since.  And prior to his run to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, Khachanov was only 16-14 on the year.  But it is worth noting he’s 4-0 lifetime in ATP finals, with his other three victories coming at 250-level events.

Zverev is certainly the far more accomplished player.  He owns 15 career titles, which includes four Masters events, as well as the 2018 ATP Finals.  And he’s reached the semifinals or better at Majors three times, something Khachanov is yet to achieve.   Though I do wonder just how much scar tissue was created by his loss in the final of last year’s US Open, where he was up two sets before eventually losing in a fifth-set tiebreak.  Both he and Dominic Thiem played a considerably nervy match, and this will be Zverev’s first best-of-five final since that painful loss.

And that could be a significant factor on this day: the men’s singles gold medal final is the only match at the Olympics that is best-of-five.  Zverev possesses a much stronger record in best-of-five, and a far superior record in five-setters.  As per Tennis Abstract, Sascha is 16-9 in fifth sets, compared to Karen’s record of 6-7.  And Khachanov’s two most recent five-set wins were not pretty.  A few weeks ago in the fourth round of Wimbledon, against Sebastian Korda, 13 out of the 18 games in the fifth set were breaks of serve.  And last summer at the US Open, he was only able to come back from two sets down thanks to the cramping of Jannik Sinner. 

So who is the favorite to win gold?  Their head-to-head favors Khachanov, while recent form and best-of-five experience favors Zverev.  And the German has been serving excellently throughout this tournament, striking 40 aces and only three doubles, especially impressive for a player who has suffered from double fault issues in the recent past.  However, Zverev had a much easier road to this final than Khachanov.  Other than Djokovic, Sascha faced no one ranked inside the top 40, while Karen beat three top 30 players.  The Olympics are an event which often produces surprising tennis results.  And these are two men who are known to get tight in big matches.  But considering the way Zverev has been serving, and the confidence boost his upset of Djokovic should provide, I give Sascha the slight edge to become an Olympic champion.

Other Notable Matches on Sunday:

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Andrey Rublev (4) [ROC] vs. Elena Vesnina and Aslan Karatsev [ROC] – Vesnina not only lost a heartbreaker on Saturday, she and Kudermetova also served for the championship a few weeks ago at Wimbledon, before losing 9-7 in the third.  And Vesnina and Karatsev were defeated in the mixed doubles final at Roland Garros, the same event where Pavlyuchenkvoa lost in the women’s singles final.  Who will realize redemption on Sunday?

Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova (1) [CZE] vs. Belinda Bencic and Viktorija Golubic – The Czechs are of course the favorites, with three Major titles as a team.  The Swiss are a new team formed exclusively for this event.  But don’t count them out, especially with Bencic coming off a gold medal victory in singles on Saturday evening.

Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Belinda Bencic battles past Marketa Vondrousova to win gold in Tokyo

Belinda Bencic won the gold medal beating Marketa Vondrousova in three sets.

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Belinda Bencic (@WeAreTennis - Twitter)

The Swiss world number 12 won her first-ever gold medal beating the Czech in a tough three-set match.

 

Belinda Bencic is your Tokyo 2020 Olympic gold medalist after beating world number 42 and Czech Marketa Vondrousova in three tight sets 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 in the tournament’s longest match at two hours and 30 minutes hitting 29 winners in the victory.

It was indeed the Swiss who got off to the faster start and after holding serve in the opening service game went right to work looking for the first break of the match setting up the first breakpoint with a stunning backhand winner.

She earned the first break of the match but the lead didn’t last long as the Sokolov, Czech Republic native broke the world number 12 to love to go back on serve.

At 2-2, it was the Czech setting up two more chances to take the lead this time with her powerful forehand and at the second time of asking she took her first lead of the match but just like earlier in the set relinquished it the very next game.

Vondrousova’s next opportunity to try and get a break and hold a lead was at 3-3 but the Flawil, Switzerland native saved both and stayed on serve until 6-5 when Bencic had a set point took it to win the first set.

The Czech wasn’t going to back down and this time she would break in the first game of the second set and managed to turn it into a double break and served out the second set to send it to a deciding third set.

Again, the world number 42 earned a break of serve in the first game of the third set, but the following game took the Swiss three chances, but she broke back on serve at 1-1 with another forehand passing shot winner.

At 2-1, the world number 12 earned three chances to break and took her first lead of the set when Vondrousova served an untimely double fault but responded by breaking her back the very next game to go back on serve.

Bencic took a medical timeout at 4-3 to have the trainer tape up her big toe and the treatment seemed to do wonders for her as she broke the Czech to love the very next game.

With the Swiss serving for the win and the gold medal, she faced some heavy pressure facing two breakpoints but saved both and on her second match point she served out the match and the win.

Earlier Elina Svitolina won the bronze medal beating Elena Rybakina in three sets.

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Novak Djokovic Faces No Regrets Over Olympic Participation After Missing Out On Medal

Novak Djokovic has no regrets about being in Tokyo despite walking away with no Olympic medal for the third consecutive games.

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Novak Djokovic (@BleacherReport - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic has revealed he doesn’t regret competing in Tokyo despite missing out on an Olympic medal.

 

The world number one lost his bronze medal match to Pablo Carreno Busta 6-4 6-7(6) 6-3 in 2 hours and 48 minutes.

A frustrating last 24 hours was capped off with a hard-fought defeat that saw him withdraw from his mixed doubles semi-final due to a left shoulder injury.

As a result Ash Barty and John Peers claimed the bronze medal which sees Djokovic without an Olympic medal for a third consecutive Olympics.

However after the loss to Carreno Busta Djokovic said he has no regrets about competing in Tokyo, “I don’t regret coming to Olympics at all,” Djokovic said to Sasa Ozmo.

“I believe that there are no coincidences in life, everything happens for a reason. I had some heartbreaking losses at Olympics and big tournaments, and I know that those losses have usually made me stronger.

“I do have a regret for not winning a medal for my country, both in singles and mixed. I just didn’t deliver yesterday and today. Level of tennis dropped, also due to exhaustion mentally and physically.

“I know that I will bounce, I will try to keep going for Olympics in Paris, to try to win a medal for my country. I am sorry I disappointed a lit of fans in Serbia, but that’s sport, I gave it all, whatever I had left in the tank, which was not so much.”

After failing to win a medal in Tokyo, Djokovic now has gone three consecutive Olympic games without a medal.

Despite this latest setback Djokovic is still on course to achieve the grand slam ahead of the US Open.

But in his post-match interview the Serb admitted that before he can think about that he has to take care of a few injuries, “I hope that the physical consequences won’t create a problem for me for the US Open,” Djokovic admitted.

“That is something I am not sure about right now, but there are no regrets, you have to give your all for your country. I have withdrawn (from mixed) because of injuries, not only one. I hope that won’t stop me for playing the US Open.”

Djokovic’s next scheduled tournament is in Cincinnati on the 16th of August although it’s possible that the world number one won’t play until the US Open on the 30th of August.

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