Zverev beats Djokovic to prepare for Medvedev final in Turin
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Turin (Italy) (AFP) – Alexander Zverev has beaten Novak Djokovic in a thrilling clash in the last four games to end the world number one’s bid for a record-breaking sixth ATP final title on Saturday and hold a final against Daniil Medvedev.
The German took a 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 6-3 victory in Turin and will face defending champion Medvedev for the trophy on Sunday.
“It was a fantastic game, I think we have played five times this year and each time it was a great battle and we played for a very long time,” Zverev said.
It was a disappointing end to a remarkable season for Djokovic, who missed one game of becoming the first man to win a Grand Slam tournament since Rod Laver in 1969 when he lost the US Open final to Medvedev.
The 20-time major champion was hoping to tie with Roger Federer in six season-ending league titles.
But Zverev, who also beat the 34-year-old in the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics, again proved to be a bridge too far for Djokovic.
“To me, no one in the world should be more respected than Novak in my opinion,” Zverev added.
“Where he’s from, what he’s accomplished is the greatest player of all time and I think people forget him sometimes. Everyone should appreciate him for once.”
Earlier on Saturday, world number two Medvedev passed Casper Ruud in the first semi-final, winning 6-4, 6-2.
The Russian will be a slight favorite for the final and has won six of his previous 11 encounters with Zverev, including the last five.
Zverev will approach this match with confidence, after an excellent end to the campaign which has enabled him to win three titles, including Olympic gold, since August.
“He’s a Grand Slam champion and I’m an Olympic gold medalist and maybe we both put that on the line tomorrow,” he said.
Both players were dominant on serve early on, but Zverev needed a big first delivery to save a set point in Game 10 as Djokovic came back for a long time.
The world number three saw two break points come and go in the next game as the first game was decisive.
Zverev was brilliant in the breaker, however, and only needed a set point to take a lead.
The pair held the serve comfortably in the second set again until Djokovic seized his moment to take a 5-4 lead and quickly took a 40-15 advantage in the next game.
Zverev dug deep to save four set points, only for Djokovic to cross the line on the fifth time to ask with an ace in the middle.
The German was the best player for most of the deciding third set and broke for a 3-1 lead.
He had to avoid a breaking point in a dramatic seventh game and eventually clinched his place in the final with a love grab, crowned by an ace.
Medvedev passes through
Final winner last year, 25-year-old Medvedev has now won nine straight games in the season-ending tournament and looked unfazed as he faced eighth-seeded Ruud, whose first positive final touches on his end.
“It was a great game because I felt that watching Casper this year he was one of the smartest players on the tour,” said Medvedev.
“It’s a tough game regardless of the score and I’m happy I managed to beat it every now and then and that made the difference today.”
Medvedev will face Zverev for the second time this week. On Tuesday, he beat the German in a three-set thriller in the Red Group.
“Sasha (Zverev), we just played a few days ago, you know it’s so hard to say something special. Big serve, big shots, same forehand and backhand … versatile player, runs well , hits well if he has an easy ball to play. Complete player, “he told reporters.
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