Novak Djokovic advanced to his ninth semi-final at the ATP Finals on Friday, as defeated Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-6(4) in a winner-takes-all qualification match at The O2 in London. In a repeat of the 2018 championship match, Djokovic saved all three break points he faced to gain revenge against the German and earn his 41st victory of the year (41-4). Djokovic ends Group Tokyo 1970 with a 2-1 record and has clinched the runner-up spot. The World No. 1 will face Group London 2020 winner Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals on Saturday. Daniil Medvedev will meet Rafael Nadal in the other semi-final clash.
”Obviously earlier in his career [Dominic] played his best on clay, but of course being one of the hardest workers on the Tour and most dedicated players, Dominic found his ‘A’ game on all other surfaces,” said Djokovic in an on-court interview. “His first [Grand] Slam [title] came on hard courts earlier this year in New York. I played him last year here and lost 7-6 in the third set. It was really a thrilling match. Hopefully we can have another great match, but hopefully this time with another outcome.”
Novak Djokovic has kept his hopes of ending the season with another record-equalling milestone alive. The 33-year-old has already tied Pete Sampras’ record mark of six year-end No. 1 finishes in the FedEx ATP Rankings and he is aiming to match Roger Federer’s record of six title runs at the season finale. The Serbian also extended an impressive tie-break record in 2020. Djokovic’s second-set tie-break win against Zverev improved his tie-break success rate this year to 15-1. The only time Djokovic lost a tie-break this season was against Kyle Edmund at the US Open.
”I felt great. Early in the first set he had a couple of break point chances. I managed to serve well in the important moments and contrary to the last match against Daniil, I just managed to find the right shots at the right time,” said Djokovic.
Nole made a fast start on Centre Court, as he covered the court well and capitalised on Zverev errors to earn a 3-0 lead. The Serbian served with accuracy to save two break points at 4-2 and closed the set two games later with a backhand winner down the line.
Both players were forced to save break points early in the second set, before they raised their level on serve to reach a tie-break. Djokovic anticipated well and struck passing shots with accuracy to earn a crucial 6/4 lead. The Serbian extended his ATP Head2Head lead against Zverev to 4-2 with a powerful forehand down the line.
“It was a great year. Unfortunately, I lost a lot of big matches… I lost [in the] semi-finals in Australia, which I could have won. I lost the final of the US Open which I should have won, kind of. [I lost the] final in Paris-Bercy. This match here,” said Zverev. “A lot of tough matches, a lot of tough moments, but a good year for me. A lot to build on for next year.”