Nitto ATP Finals preview & pick: Novak Djokovic vs. Alexander ZverevBy Nov 19, 2020
In one of the sport’s premier chess matches, Alexander Zverev tops Novak Djokovic to reach ATP Finals title matchBy Nov 21, 2021
Daniil Medvedev continues career year with place in ATP Finals championship matchBy Nov 20, 2021
Casper Ruud soars into ATP Finals semis, up-ending rival Andrey Rublev in TurinBy Nov 19, 2021
Jannik Sinner pleased with "great season" but ready to target improvementsBy Nov 19, 2021
Zverev joins fellow former ATP Finals champions Djokovic, Medvedev in semifinalsBy Nov 18, 2021
Novak Djokovic cruises past Andrey Rublev and into ATP Finals semifinals; Stefanos Tsitsipas withdrawsBy Nov 17, 2021
Reigning ATP Finals champion Daniil Medvedev has just enough answers to squeak past Alexander ZverevBy Nov 16, 2021
Matteo Berrettini withdraws from ATP Finals, countryman Jannik Sinner moves into Turin fieldBy Nov 16, 2021
Mats Wilander wonders if Djokovic-Medvedev rivalry could use "a little more fireworks"By Nov 16, 2021
Nitto ATP Finals preview & pick: Novak Djokovic vs. Alexander Zverev
In their third ATP Finals meeting, the Serb and the German look to punch their ticket to the semifinals in this win-or-go-home clash.
Published Nov 19, 2020
For the first time in a long time, the typically complex Nitto ATP Finals qualification scenarios couldn’t be simpler. With Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem having cruised to their respective semifinal rounds, the winner of each group’s final round-robin live rubber will move on to the final four. In a rematch of the 2018 final, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev will face off in London for the third time.
It was in the 2018 final against Djokovic that Zverev summoned some of his best-ever tennis. After losing to the Serbian in the round-robin stage, a free-swinging and fiery Zverev dominated the world No. 1, 6-3, 6-4, to capture his first ATP Finals crown.
The Serbian leads their head-to-head, 3-2, but for some weird reason, whoever wins between the two does so in dominant fashion. Not only have they never split sets in any of their previous five encounters, they’ve never even played a tiebreak. Hopefully that changes on Friday.
To advance, the Serbian will need to recover from a 6-3, 6-3 thrashing against Medvedev on Wednesday. It’s not often Djokovic looks like the lesser athlete on a tennis court, but that was the case against the Russian. Medvedev dominated Djokovic with more consistency from the ground, swifter movement, and bigger serving.
“He was just better, no question about it,” Djokovic said after the match.
While the world No. 1 remains a substantial -250 favorite to beat Zverev, one has to wonder about his current motivation level. He’s won this tournament five times before, and has secured a record-tying sixth year-end No. 1 finish. After a turbulent season on and off the court—filled with questionable decision-making during his Adria Tour, an unlucky on-court accident with potential all-time great ramifications, as well as a straight-set thumping in the Roland Garros final—how much does Djokovic actually care about winning this tournament?
We’ll find out soon enough if it will be a laser-focused and motivated Djokovic who shows up, or a disinterested version of him—the one in Vienna who lost to Lorenzo Sonego, 6-2, 6-1, after securing the year-end No. 1 finish.
Zverev typically brings his best tennis as an underdog. Two years ago, he was simply sensational, cracking clean winners off the ground from both wings.
The German’s backhand is always rock-solid, but when he finds the range on his forehand and serve he can appear unbeatable.
The ATP Finals is a notoriously difficult tournament to predict, but the loser-go-home nature of this best-of-three set match should ensure maximum effort from both players. In the end, your guess is as good as mine, but if the German strikes first against the Serbian, especially on the heels of the world No. 1's comprehensive beatdown against Medvedev on Wednesday, he could take the wind out of Djokovic’s sails.
The Pick: Alexander Zverev