Zverev denies Federer shot at 100th title at ATP Finals

Four-time victor Novak Djokovic edged Swiss veteran Roger Federer in full sets in a spotlight semifinal duel to set up his encounter against unseeded Russian Karen Khachanov at the ATP Paris Masters here on Saturday.

The 21-year-old German, making his second appearance at the end-of-season showpiece, outlasted six-time champion Roger Federer in the semi-finals and repeated the feat against the world number one.

After his victory over Kevin Anderson in the semi-finals on Sunday, Djokovic took to social media with a shout-out for his driver.

The blank Czech oversaw Andy Murray's best results against him, including a victory here at the O2 Arena in the 2016 final.

"He is also a famous batsman for his local cricket team".

But at 7-7, Djokovic finally got hold of a return and got into the rally to get the crucial mini break with the help of a Cilic unforced error.

Federer broke for a 2-1 lead in the second set, but Zverev quickly composed himself to hit straight back in the following game.

The momentum shifted slightly in the next game as Zverev hit loose back-to-back double faults to let Djokovic back in, but he was unaffected, again exerting huge pressure on the Djokovic serve to break for the third time in a row and re-take the lead. Zverev did it once in the first set and three times in the second, completing the victory with a spectacular backhand victor up the line.

"I think it's just going to be hard to finish it, but I'm happy I gave myself the opportunity".

"He obviously analysed the match that I played with him a few days ago, told me a few things I had to do different".

"Obviously I knew, even when I was far from my best, and that was around Indian Wells, Miami time, beginning of clay, that it will take time". I was very happy for him, as well.

"The crowd have been absolutely fantastic all week". Serve dominated the first set of a high-class match, with neither player able to make serious inroads, Zverev sending down howitzers around the 140 miles-per-hour (225 kilometres per hour) mark.

Zverev became the first German champion since Boris Becker won in Frankfurt in 1995. Midway through a rally in a second-set tie-break, he dropped a ball and scurried to reclaim it. "You are one of the best teams on tour so good luck for next year".

Notwithstanding the oddness of the World Tour Finals - ostensibly featuring the top eight players in the world, but in effect featuring the top eight players in the world by ranking who are fit to play, and coming at the end of a gruellingly long season - lifting this particular trophy is a real milestone for Zverev, for two big reasons.

"Oh my God", said Zverev, who also became the first German victor since 1995.

There was never any danger of Zverev getting any hostile treatment this evening, there being no great love here for Djokovic and the British love of the underdog only being subsumed when it comes to the blessed Federer.

Both of those previous wins were also in straight sets.

"Sascha [Zverev] definitely played much better than he did in the group stage". The story line is the route to the finals by Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev of Germany. But at the same time, as I said on the court, you put things in a larger perspective, see things a bit differently.

  • Steve Townsend