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In London, it’s a second change of guards as Zverev beats Djokovic


Alexander Zverev of Germany. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP /TASOS KATOPODIS / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

The final match was another chapter in the battle of generations. It rounded off an exciting London week that featured the top eight male tennis players. The story line is the route to the finals by Serbia’s Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev of Germany.

Zverev became the youngest player in a decade to win the ATP Finals after blasting his way past world No.1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, in the final. The 21-year-old has become the third German player in history to have won the season-ending event.

Yesterday’s game was the fourth career meeting between Djokovic and Zverez. Zverev won the first in the final of the 2017 Italian Open in Rome, 6/4, 6/3, while Djokovic won the second in the final of the 2018 Shanghai Masters 6/2, 6/1. Djokovic won the third in the Round Robin of this ATP Tour Finals 6/4,6/1.

Now Zverev has evened the Head to Head by defeating Djokovic 6/4, 6/3. None of the four matches reached a third set.Djokovic was the only player to win all his three matches in the round robin stage and did not lose a set. In the semifinal, he continued his dominance of Kevin Anderson with a quick 6/2, 6/2 victory, keeping him fresh for the title match.

The 21-year old Zverev would seem to have fulfilled the rite of passage when he defeated Roger Federer in the semi-finals, 7/5, 7/6 (5). The result immediately brought up reminiscences of the past era, in the same city. It was London in 2001 that Roger Federer, at 19, defeated Pete Sampras in what turned out to be the change of guards in the sport.
Zverev halted Federer’s quest for his career 100th title.

Roger Federer was the world number one junior player in 1999 but won his first match at Wimbledon in 2001 and proceeded to defeat Sampras in the fourth round 7/6, 7/7, 6/4, 6/7, 7/5. On that fateful July 2, when Sampras served to level games in the fifth, a Federer forehand winner gave the Swiss the victory over the defending champion. The Headlines the next day, in The Guardian of London, was “End of the Sampras golden era.” And so it turned out to be.

Sampras lost in the U.S. Open of that same year to Lleyton Hewitt following his loss to Russia’s Marat Safin in 2000, but the American won the 2002 U.S. Open that was his farewell Grand Slam and last tournament. The holder of 14 Grand Slams retired and was officially honoured at the 2003 U.S. Open.

This year’s ATP Tour Finals place the question on Roger Federer. If Sampras had won that 2001 match, it would have been the American’s 100th victory on grass. Federer was dispatched by Alexander Zverev en route to his 100th career title. What lies ahead for the 37-year-old star from Switzerland?


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