LONDON, UK – Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev face off in a battle of the champions to wrap up the semi-final line-up at the Nitto ATP Finals.
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Novak Djokovic  v Alexander Zverev  | H2H: Djokovic leads 3-2
In what can hardly be heralded as a triumphant last hurrah for these players, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev need to muster up some form to their play to get out of the group stages and reach the semi-finals of this year’s Nitto ATP Finals.
For Zverev, who arrived (and continues to be) shrouded in controversy surrounding the allegations of his ex-girlfriend of domestic abuse, he has struggled to get the ball over the net at times, and while he improved a little in his win over Diego Schwartzman, there were still lapses to his game that saw the Argentine come back into the match, but not for long enough for him to pull off a win.
Djokovic was beaten in straight sets by Daniil Medvedev, and at times as through he was struggling to breath and it was certainly not the kind of dominant performance we saw at the beginning of the year.
Medvedev found a way to ‘out-Djokovic’ Djokovic, going toe-to-toe with him in gruelling exchanges from the baseline, even driving the Serbian to throw in the almost constant drop-shots just to try and shorten the rallies.
Zverev is going to have to do the same, trying to dictate the play and always force Djokovic into an extra shot. Ordinarily he would have been able to count on his serve to help him get free points, but it was more of a liability in the first round and against one of the most supreme returners, he will have to tighten up that aspect of his game enormously.
When he is dialled in, he can be more of a match for Djokovic as we saw in the final in 2018, when Zverev’s star was on the rise and he claimed his biggest title to date. He has kicked on in terms of reaching the US Open final, going two sets up over eventual winner and friend Dominic Thiem.
If Djokovic brings his A-Game and Zverev continues to have the yips on his serve, it would be very hard to count the World No. 1 out of the hunt for another ATP finals title.
Medvedev finds himself in a new position after having gone 0-3 on his debut, without a set to his name, he has been very much in control at the Nitto ATP Finals this year.
He took full advantage of Zverev’s shakiness and eased through his opener, and again took advantage of a bad day at the office for Djokovic to top the group with a match to spare. It would be easy to take his foot off the gas, but he looks motivated to make it a clean sweep.
Schwartzman has had his moments, breaking a slow-starting Djokovic and pushing Zverev the distance, but it looks as though he will close out his time in the final London running of the going 0-3.
Medvedev’s ability to grind the life out of his opponents might not be as effective against Schwartzman who can scamper about at will against the taller players, and given that Medvedev doesn’t serve-bomb which is surprising given his height, Schwartzman can give himself a chance to hang in the rallies with some solid returning.
However, with the exception of the ATP Cup in Australia when the Argentine finally took Medvedev the distance, the Russian has more than enough in the tank to come out of the group stages without dropping a set.
Prediction: Medvedev in straight sets.
Day Six of the Nitto ATP Finals starts at 12pm (GMT).
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