Novak Djokovic sweeps aside Alexander Zverev at ATP Finals

Ruben Hill
November 15, 2018

Complaints about the increasing number of tournaments and the length of the season were made by Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev yesterday, with the Nitto ATP Finals proving once again to be something of a damp squib. However, Djokovic fended them off before breaking to take the set, and Zverev's challenge promptly evaporated in the second as the Serbian moved a step closer to a sixth title at London's O2 Arena.

He will advance into the last four of the season-ending tournament for the eighth time if John Isner beats Marin Cilic in the evening session.

Djokovic, who beat Isner in his opening group-stage match, has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance in the second half of 2018 and lifting the trophy on the banks of the River Thames would be the ideal way to finish his year.

The 31-year-old was assailed by claims he had lost his hunger for success and was past his best after injury and personal issues threatened to derail his career in 2017.

"A win is a win", the world number one, bidding for a record-equalling sixth title at the ATP's blue-riband event, told reporters.

"I found it more hard than in the first match against John Isner".

"I don't think it was breathtaking tennis from both of us, but a win is a win", said Djokovic.

"But in the second set it was more easy to read him".

'I managed to be in the right place at the right time. Djokovic saved it with a service victor but then double-faulted to give the 21-year-old another opportunity.

The manner of Zverev's collapse set the tone of what was to follow.

The German eventually forced the first break points of the match with the score level at 4-4 but Djokovic held after a backhand lob from Zverev drifted inches wide.

Just as in the day's first shootout it was Zverev who jumped into a lead against an edgy Cilic who double-faulted at 1-4.

The net game always looked risky for Zverev and so it proved as he double-faulted to concede the set.

Djokovic had to wait a few hours to learn of his progress to the last four, which was confirmed thanks to a gritty fightback from former Wimbledon finalist Cilic.

The 21-year-old Zverev, who has a Tour-leading 55 match wins this year, went toe-to-toe with Djokovic from the baseline and looked to have the firepower to worry his opponent.

He has two wins and is yet to drop a set.

"I guess winning the first set really counts this year".

His ability to play the percentages and churn out wins in third gear has been a key component in his rise to one of the all-time greats and that was all he needed on Wednesday.

Cilic kept his hopes of a semifinal berth alive as he came through this year's first three-setter - improving his record at the tournament to a still dismal 2-9.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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