Alexander Zverev knows what's in store for him. "Playing against novak at the ATP finals in the hall is the toughest match there can be here," germany's top tennis pro said ahead of friday's group final against world number one novak djokovic (15.00 a.M./sky).
After all, the serb has already won the final of the eight best professionals of the year five times, four times alone in the imposing, but this year because of corona almost deserted O2 arena in london. "I will need a perfect match to win against him."
If Zverev wins his third match against djokovic in the sixth duel, he will reach the semifinals of the ATP finals, as he has done in the past two years. In 2018, the 23-year-old even won the prestigious tournament – in the final against djokovic. "That's why this tournament and this place will always be very special to me," Zverev said.
But Zverev is still a long way from his 2018 form, when he also beat roger federer in the semifinals, this year. Although the hamburg native managed to win his first match against the argentinean diego schwartzman on wednesday, Zverev still had a few wobbles in the hard-fought three-set victory. "I know that i have to improve further against novak. But it was much better than against medvedev," said Zverev. He started the tournament with a clear loss to the russian daniil medvedev, who was already a semi-finalist after his victory over djokovic.
But even djokovic is far from his best form at the end of a complicated year for him. Against Medvedev he was largely without a chance, also had to struggle with breathing problems. "I lost seven matches in a row, you just can't afford to do that at this level," djokovic said.
The 33-year-old will end the year as number one again regardless of his performance in london. "This means a lot to me," said the 17-time grand slam champion. Especially because it happened after a year with many highs and lows. At the beginning of the season, he won the australian open, remained unbeaten at the ATP cup, in melbourne and in dubai until the corona crash. Then followed the failed adria tour organized by him, where he and other players were infected with the virus, and after the tour resumed, the disqualification at the US open.
As far as negative headlines are concerned, Zverev and djokovic are in no way inferior to each other in 2020. The german is also haunted in london by accusations of violence from his ex-girlfriend olga sharipova. "I've said everything about this, i'm here to play tennis," Zverev said again after the win against schwartzman. But concentrating on the sport is difficult for him. But Zverev will need this focus against djokovic. "Otherwise i have no chance."