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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, November 21, 2021

 
Zverev

Alexander Zverev did not face break point dethroning Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-4 to capture his second ATP Finals championship in the last four years.

Photo credit: Getty

Qualification questions confronted Alexander Zverev after his Turin round-robin loss to Daniil Medvedev on Tuesday.

Rivalry relevancy issues faced Zverev as he stepped on court for today’s ATP Finals rematch.

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A free-flowing Zverev spent the day delivering declarative answers.

Zverev zapped eight aces and didn’t face a break point dethroning defending champion Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-4 to capture his second ATP Finals championship in the last four years.

“Look, you go into the match knowing that you're playing one of the two best players in the world," Zverev said. "I knew that I had to play my best tennis to beat him. I did that today.

"I think I played a very good match. I'm happy with my level. I'm happy with the performance I had. Of course, today, I mean, was a good match from my side.”




The 2018 champion snapped Medvedev’s nine-match tournament winning streak blasting ferocious first serves and imposing his forehand strike at critical stages in a 75-minute conquest.

The second-ranked Russian had defeated Zverev five times in a row, but the third-ranked German flipped the script exuding relaxed intensity for his first win over Medvedev since the 2019 ATP Finals at London’s O2 Arena.

“Being the leader of our generation right now it’s incredible what you have achieved the last few years—you beat me five times in a row—thank you for letting me win once as well,” Zverev said during the trophy presentation. “It’s great to see how far we came together playing the biggest matches in the world it’s great to have you on court with me.”

It’s a silver end to a golden season for Zverev, who wraps the season with an ATP best 59-15 record and a Tour-best sixth title.

Closing power is a Zverev asset: he improved to 6-0 in finals this year wrapping this ATP Finals with a 4-1 record collecting a $2,143,000 champion's check and 1,300 FedEx ATP Rankings points.

The Olympic gold medal champion raised the shiny silver Brad Drewett Trophy and elevated spirits of festive Italian fans praising Turin’s debut as host after a highly-successful 12-year run at the O2 Arena in London.

“Obviously, London the last 10 years was an incredible event,” Zverev said. “For me personally, but I’m also obviously holding the trophy right now, Italy has topped it.

“What makes it so special in Italy is the fans because the fans are absolutely insane. It’s the loudest crowd it’s the most energetic crowds. Rome is one of my favorite tournaments of the year, I think this one has topped it…I love Italy so much and I hope Italy loves tennis just as much.”

Zverev, who edged world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Saturday’s semifinals, is the fourth man in ATP Finals history to knock off the world’s top two-ranked players in the semifinals and finals—and the first man since Andre Agassi in 1990 to send the top two packing.




US Open champion was bidding to sweep successive ATP Finals championship with undefeated records, but could not solve Zverev's serve. The German served 74 percent, pounded down first serves into every are of the box and committed just one double fault.

"Amazing, amazing match yesterday and today also never easy to play someone who lost in the group so congrats you’ve done it well," Medvedev told Zverev. "Hopefully a lot more finals to come and yeah congrats again."

The forehand can be a finishing shot and sporadic stroke for both men. Medvedev misfired on successive forehands and Zverev tomahawked a high backhand for triple break point.

Fortune favored the third seed when his drive crashed into the tape and crawled over giving Zverev the first break in the third game. For just the third time in the tournament Medvedev surrendered serve.

Empowered, Zverev flashed through 12 of 13 points firing an ace to back up the break with a love hold for 3-1. Zverev’s willingness to change direction and crack his forehand down the line helped him assert authority in the early stages



The second-seeded Russian saved a break point, denying Zverev a double break lead, as he held for 2-3.

Serving for the set, Zverev zapped a 139 mph ace down the T then whipped a wide ace for triple set point. A slider serve that slithered wide closed the 33-minute opening set. Zverev was dominant on serve, winning 16 of 18 first-serve points and permitting just five points overall on serve. Medvedev defended his second serve with vigor but the sloppy game where his forehand failed him was the turning point.

Tennis Express

A rare Medvedev double fault into tape and a crackling crosscourt backhand strike gave Zverev break point to start the second set. Medvedev, who connected on just two first serves in the game, sailed a forehand beyond the baseline gifting the Olympic gold-medal champion the beak.

The US Open champion carved out a backhand drop shot and pass combination drawing to deuce on Zverev’s serve in the sixth game. Zverev quieted the uprising slamming successive smashes and whipping a swing volley winner to wrap a challenging hold for 4-2.

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Zverev’s moment of truth came serving for the championship. Floating in a butterfly like second serve that barely approached 55 mph, Zverev stepped in for a bold battering ram forehand down the line to get to 30-15. Zverev slid his eighth ace out wide sealing his sixth title of the year in style.

This Mid Gen rivalry is now one of the most important in the sport. Nine of their 12 clashes have come in Masters 1000 or ATP Finals play. So to truly elevate this rivalry to elite status they need to square off in Grand Slams. Surely those days are coming perhaps as soon as January down under.
The two-time ATP Finals champion now aims for the one thing missing from his collection: a Grand Slam title.

Asked if this season in which he won 35 of his last 40 matches moves him closer to a major, Zverev replied: "I think so, yeah. I mean, why not, right."

 

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