ATP Finals: Novak Djokovic beats Alexander Zverev to make semi-finals

Novak Djokovic moved past Alexander Zverev in straight sets to reach the last four of the ATP Finals.

The Serb world number one beat German Zverev 6-3 7-6 (7-4) at the O2 Arena in London.

Djokovic, seeking a record-equalling sixth title at the end-of-season tournament, was pushed much more in the second set but raised his level at the crucial time in the tie-break.

He will play Dominic Thiem in the last four on Saturday at 14:00 GMT.

That match is live on BBC One and the BBC Sport website.

US Open champion Thiem progressed as winner of Group London 2020 with Djokovic going through in second position in Group Tokyo 1970.

“I felt great. In the first set he had a couple of break-point chances and I managed to serve well in the important moments,” said 33-year-old Djokovic.

“In contrast to the match against Daniil, I found the right shots at the right time. I have tremendous respect for Sascha, who is a great player and it is not easy to return 140mph first serves.

“It was anybody’s game for most of the match.”

Russian fourth seed Daniil Medvedev was already assured of topping the group after beating Djokovic on Wednesday, but there was no drop in his level as he beat Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-3 in their dead rubber.

After winning the Paris Masters last week, Medvedev continued his impressive form as he breezed through the group stage without dropping a set.

Medvedev, 24, will meet Spanish second seed Rafael Nadal – who is aiming for the first ATP Finals title of his illustrious career – in Saturday’s second semi-final at 20:00 GMT.

Daniil Medvedev cracked 31 winners and took three of his nine break points in a high-quality performance

Djokovic quells Zverev fightback in second set

Djokovic and Zverev’s five previous meetings had all been won in straight sets without any of them going to a tie-break and it seemed as though this match would follow the pattern as the Serb, who was victorious in three of them, dominated the early stages.

He was into the groove with a love hold, while Zverev gave up his first service game in predictable fashion, conceding the break with a double fault.

Zverev did bring up two break-back points at 2-4 but first serves and clean hitting from the baseline helped Djokovic see them off with little fuss, before he sealed the set with a trademark backhand down the line.

The second set was much more competitive with Zverev twice shouting “come on” when saving two break points at 2-2. As ever, though, the differential between his first and second serves was key to the match, with the 2018 champion winning 83% of points on his first delivery and only 35% on his second.

Zverev twice came within two points of the set when Djokovic was serving but the 17-time Grand Slam champion remained solid at key moments, as they eventually played their first tie-break together.

The 23-year-old moved to a 2-0 lead but Djokovic quickly levelled and then got the decisive mini-break with a backhand cross-court winner for 5-3.

“Novak served incredibly well, I thought,” said Zverev. “I had to go very far back to return his serve. It was very difficult for me.

“I started playing really well in the second set, so a few points decided the set.”

Looking ahead to his semi-final against Austrian Thiem, Djokovic added: “Obviously earlier in his career Dominic played his best on clay but being one of the hardest workers on tour, and most dedicated players, found his A-game on other surfaces, and his first Slam came on a hard court earlier this year in New York.

“I played him here last year and lost 7-6 in the third set, it was a thrilling match. Hopefully have another great match – with a different outcome.”

Group Tokyo 1970
Matches won-lostSets won-lostGames won-lost
1. Daniil Medvedev [Q]3-06-036-19
2. Novak Djokovic [Q]2-14-231-26
3. Alexander Zverev1-22-532-37
4. Diego Schwartzman0-31-623-40

Granollers retirement sends both doubles teams through

Marcel Granollers had treatment on his shoulder when he and Horacio Zeballos were trailing 6-5 in the first set against Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin

There was an unusual end to the doubles round-robin stage when Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, who were already assured of qualification from Group Bob Bryan, retired from their match against Jurgen Melzer and Edouard Roger-Vasselin.

It meant that Melzer and Roger-Vasselin joined Spain’s Granollers and Argentine Zeballos in progressing to the semi-finals, eliminating Bruno Soares and Mate Pavic.

The retirement, after one point in a first-set tie-break, meant that Austrian Melzer and Frenchman Roger-Vasselin were awarded a straight-sets victory – the result they needed to go through instead of Soares and Pavic.

Zeballos had served for the set at 5-4 and if he had held serve then Brazilian Soares and Croat Pavic would have been guaranteed a semi-final place.

Granollers had treatment on his shoulder at the change of ends when trailing 6-5 in the first set, but came out and held his serve to ensure a tie-break.

After Roger-Vasselin served an ace on the first point, Granollers said he could not continue.

Granollers and Zeballos are now scheduled to play Dutchman Wesley Koolhof and Croat Nikola Mektic at 12:00 GMT on Saturday, but it remains to be seen if the Spaniard is fit enough to take part.

Britain’s Joe Salisbury and American Rajeev Ram face Melzer and Roger-Vasselin in the second semi-final at 18:00, knowing a victory will secure the year-end number one ranking.

If Melzer and Roger-Vasselin win, Soares and Pavic – playing their last tournament together – will clinch that honour. Brazil’s Soares is reuniting with former partner Jamie Murray of Great Britain in 2021.

Source: BBC Sport

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