The Ivan Lendl effect on Alexander Zverev is no laughing matter

Behind every great player is often a great coach. Such is the case for ATP World Tour Finals winner Alexander Zverev and his coach, Ivan Lendl.

One setback won’t take away from Novak Djokovic’s comeback to stardom

Yes, Novak Djokovic fell in the ATP World Finals championship match, but his season will go down as perhaps the most important of his career.

Zverev: “It’s Just Amazing”

Alexander Zverev’s holiday in the Maldives will be that much more enjoyable next week after the 21-year-old followed in the footsteps of fellow German Boris Becker, who won the last of his three season finale titles in 1995, with victory over Nov…

Flashback: Alexander Zverev, 17, A Star Of Tomorrow

A 14-year-old Andy Murray is taking a two-minute break from his practice session with Germany’s Mischa Zverev. As the pair get a drink of water, Mischa’s tiny four-year-old brother, Alex, rushes from his vantage point at the side of the cou…

Highlights: Stunning Sascha Overcomes Djokovic To Lift Trophy At The Nitto ATP Finals

Watch highlights as Alexander Zverev defeats Novak Djokovic in straight sets to win the Nitto ATP Finals. Photo credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Zverev Reflects On Biggest Win At The Nitto ATP Finals

Watch as Alexander Zverev discusses beating Novak Djokovic to win the Nitto ATP Finals and his motivation heading into the 2019 season. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Djokovic: ‘It Was A Phenomenal Season’

Novak Djokovic crashed to a low point this June after spending months struggling in his recovery from a right elbow injury, falling to his lowest ATP Ranking, No. 22, in more than 11 years. Just five months later, the Serbian is back at World No. 1. And en route to the championship match at the Nitto ATP Finals, Djokovic dominated, winning all 36 of his service games.

But Djokovic simply fell short in the final, losing against Alexander Zverev, who is the youngest champion at the season finale since a 21-year-old Djokovic in 2008.

“Finishing the year as No. 1 [in the ATP Rankings], that was the goal coming into the indoor season. I managed to achieve that,” Djokovic said. “Overall it was a phenomenal season that I have to be definitely very proud of.”

A 6-6 start to 2018 seems like a distant memory now, as Djokovic, who was trying to become the oldest winner in tournament history (since 1970) won 35 of his final 38 matches on the year to reassert himself as the best player in the world. The Serbian might not have tied Roger Federer’s record of six Nitto ATP Finals triumphs, but he has clearly announced that he is back in peak form.

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One might never have imagined Djokovic being in this position after the Australian Open, when he underwent a procedure on his right elbow. But the 31-year-old did.

“Yes, because I always believe in myself. Really, as I said before many times, I kind of also expect myself to do very well,” Djokovic said. “But at the same time I would sign it right away if someone told me because at that time it was also looking quite improbable that that’s going to happen considering where I was [ATP] ranking-wise and also game-wise. I wasn’t playing even close to where I wanted to be at in terms of level of tennis.”

Entering the final at The O2, Djokovic won 14 consecutive matches against opponents inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings, dropping just six sets in those clashes. So while he could not complete the perfect ending to a fairytale season, this is just a small bump, and not a cause for concern in the grand scheme of things. He still reached his sixth consecutive championship match (did not play in 2017) at the Nitto ATP Finals, after all.

“Obviously no one likes to lose a tennis match. You try your best. But at the same time, as I said on the court, you put things in a larger perspective, see things a bit differently,” Djokovic said. “When you get out of this feeling of a little bit disappointment that you lost, [you can enjoy] all the positive things that I have to reflect on and also take from this season, especially the last six months.”

It’s been an interesting journey for Djokovic in 2018 to say the least. Nine months ago, the Serbian was on an operating table. Now, he’s back at the top of the sport once again.

“When I went on the table for surgery, I knew it was going to be a different season because it never happened. Whatever the outcome in the end of the year, I knew that I’m going to learn a lot from this season,” Djokovic said. “Fortunately for me, it ended up in the best possible way. Yeah, I’m just grateful.”

Hot Shot: Zverev Overpowers Djokovic To Earn Break At The Nitto ATP Finals

Watch as Alexander Zverev earns an early break of serve in the second set, ripping a forehand down the line to end an extended rally against Novak Djokovic at the Nitto ATP Finals. Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images. Watch live tennis at tennistv.com.

Zverev shocks Djokovic to win ATP Finals title

Alexander Zverev stunned Novak Djokovic to win his maiden ATP Finals title in dominant fashion at London’s O2 Arena.

Stunning Sascha Beats Novak For His Biggest Title

Alexander Zverev became the youngest champion at the Nitto ATP Finals in a decade on Sunday, stunning World No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 to lift the biggest title of his career.

The 21-year-old, the youngest player to triumph at the season finale since Djokovic in 2008, was already the first German to reach the championship match at the season finale since 1996, when Boris Becker did it. And now Zverev is the first player from his country to lift the trophy since Becker did so in 1995, dashing Djokovic’s hopes of a perfect ending to a fairytale season in which he returned from a right elbow injury back to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings.

“This is the biggest title of my career so far. This trophy means a lot, everything, to all the players. I mean, you only have so many chances of winning it. You play against the best players only,” Zverev said. “How I played today, how I won it, for me it’s just amazing.”

One year ago, Zverev made his debut at The O2, falling short of reaching the semi-finals. But the 10-time ATP World Tour champion showed his growth, beating six-time champion Roger Federer in straight sets on Saturday and now Djokovic for the victory. It’s the first time a player has beaten both Djokovic and Federer at the same Nitto ATP Finals. Zverev’s the first player to beat the Top 2 seeds in the semi-finals and final of the event since Andre Agassi in 1990.

“It’s quite astonishing, winning this title, beating two such players back-to-back, Roger and Novak, in semi-finals and final,” Zverev said. “It means so much. I’m incredibly happy and incredibly proud of this moment right now.”

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Entering the match, all signs were pointing to Djokovic tying Federer’s record of six triumphs at the season finale. The Serbian had won 35 of his previous 37 matches entering the final, and all 36 of his service games this week at The O2. Four days ago, he had beaten Zverev with the loss of just five games in round-robin play, and he walked on Centre Court having won 14 consecutive matches against opponents inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings, dropping just six sets in those clashes.

But from the first point of the match, Zverev showed no fear, standing on the baseline and trading blows with Djokovic, who for the first time all tournament appeared to be scrambling, and not the in-control defensive wall that had diffused attacks from the very best players in the world.

“I wasn’t trying to overthink it. I just tried to go out there and enjoy the match as much as I can, enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the moment. That’s what I did,” Zverev said. “My serve has been working well the whole week. I had a lot of confidence in it. It all worked out well.”

Zverev was especially solid with his two-handed backhand, using good depth to keep Djokovic on the back foot. And perhaps surprisingly, it was the German left standing in many of the longer rallies, refusing to overplay and succumb to the top seed’s defensive pressure as other players had at The O2 this week.

The German earned the only two break points Djokovic faced in his first four matches at the event in their round-robin match, but could not convert either of them. In the final, however, Zverev broke serve four times in 10 return games.

“I’d like to congratulate Novak on a great week and the second half of the season. You’ve barely lost a match and I’m actually very thankful you lost to me today,” Zverev said. “We’ve played twice this week. Everyone knows how good of a tennis player you are, but I want to mention how good of a person you are. We’ve had a lot of good talks on life. I appreciate you letting me win the title today.”

Zverev, who earns $2,509,000 and 1,300 ATP Ranking points for his efforts, will finish the year at World No. 4 for the second season in a row. 

“I’d like to thank my Dad, who has coached me all my life. He won’t stop crying until next year, probably. Thanks Ivan [Lendl] for joining the team. I think it’s working out for now!”

Djokovic entered the match having won 81 per cent of his second-serve points at the year-end championships. But for the first time at the event, he did not dominate neutral rallies, claiming just 35 per cent of his second-serve points against Zverev.

While Djokovic fell short of matching Federer’s record, he has still enjoyed a tremendous rise in the second half of 2018. In June, the Serbian fell as low as No. 22 in the ATP Rankings, his lowest point in more than 11 years. But starting with Wimbledon, Djokovic won four tour-level titles to claw his way back to the top spot of the ATP Rankings.

Did You Know?
Zverev finishes the season with an ATP World Tour-leading 58 tour-level wins, surpassing his previous career-high of 55.

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