After another scintillating year on the ATP Tour, clinching the Australian Open, Wimbledon, French Open, and making the Final of the US Open, World No 1 Novak Djokovic lost to third seed Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals of the year-end Nitto ATP Finals, perhaps finally consolidating the changing of the guard in Men’s Tennis.
After his ATP Finals win in 2018, Alexander Zverev has once again found a way past Novak Djokovic with a 7-6 (4), 4-6, 6-3 win over the World no. 1 to advance to his second championship match at the ATP Finals. Coincidentally it was the young German who killed Novak’s hopes of a Golden Slam when he beat him at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this year. Novak was on the cusp of equalling Roger Federer’s record of 6 ATP Tour Final titles but will have to wait for that record, and given the way Zverev, Medvedev, and the next generation are coming at him, it may not be an easy feat next year either.
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While the BIG 3 of Roger, Rafa, and Novak have still managed to dominate the Grand Slams, Alexander Zverev (2018), Stefanos Tsitsipas (2019) and Daniil Medvedev (2020) took over at the season finale in recent years and that trend will now continue with a blockbuster next-generation finale as Medvedev and Zverev clash tonight in Turin. The two will clash just 5-days after a high-intensity match where the big Russian edged past Zverev in a 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-6(6) win where Daniil admitted his “hands were shaking” by the end of it. Medvedev is looking to become the first back-to-back champion at the ATP Final since Novak who won 4 straight titles from 2012 to 2015 and has won 4 of the last 5 matches vs Zverev but will have a man who shares the exact number of wins on tour (58) in 2021, making this a stunning climax to the Tennis calendar.
For Novak, it was still a magnificent year and his sentiments post-match echoed the same, with added respect for Sacha Zverev too, “It was a great season, no doubt. I did not play many tournaments, but still managed to end the year at No. 1 for the seventh time, broke records for the year-end No. 1, historic No. 1, won three out of [the] four Slams,” Djokovic said. On Zverev, there was nothing but appreciation and praise, “Of course we want to win against each other, but there is that respect and appreciation for each other that is more important than winning or losing. That’s something that I always had with Sascha. I really appreciate that,” Djokovic said. “I wish him all the best. He’s a great guy, a fantastic tennis player, I’m sure soon to be a Grand Slam champion.”
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Zverev clearly looks up to Djokovic and the respect was apparent in his post-match conference where he stated that Novak “understands me” and that the Serb’s approachable nature was respected by several players on tour. “I think later on now when I am on tour, he’s somebody that a lot of players appreciate being able to talk to him. He understands me. We have discussions, not only about tennis, but have discussions about life things. We have discussions about other things that happen around the world. This is what I appreciate him for.”
Two finalists under the age of 25, two men hungry for success and to take on the mantle of future legends of the Tennis world – this ATP Tour Final could be one for the ages between Sacha Zverev and Daniil Medvedev and in many ways, could be the battle that we see dominate over the next decade of the sport.
[Featured Image Credit: ATP Tour]