Novak Djokovic beat Alexander Zverev to advance to the final four in the ATP final on Friday, staying on track to tie Roger Federer’s record six titles in the season-end event. The Serbian seed, who was largely beaten by Daniil Medvedev in his second round robin match, was again below his best at the O2 Arena in London, but did enough to win 6 -3, 7-6 (7/4). The five-time winner finishes second in the Tokyo 2020 group behind Medvedev and will face third seed Dominic Thiem in the semi-final on Saturday. Seeded Rafael Nadal, looking for his first victory in the elite eight-man event, will face Medvedev in the other semi-final after finishing second in the London 2020 group.
Djokovic beat German Zverev on first request in the empty stadium and took a 3-0 lead, threatening to run away with the game – a repeat of the 2018 final, which Zverev won in straight sets.
The 33-year-old looked focused after his unusual dismemberment by Medvedev, making use of trouble when he was left 15-40 apart in Game 7.
It turned out to be Zverev’s last chance in the set and 17-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic hammered a backhand winner down the line to win 6-3.
Djokovic handed Zverev a break point in the fourth game of the second set after a double fault, but the German was unable to capitalize.
The 23-year-old fifth seed saved two break points on his serve in the next game, letting out a roar as he kept his nose ahead.
The set went to a tie-break. Zverev got an early mini-break but Djokovic equalized and the pressure returned to the German, who hesitated to give the Serbian victory.
The seed said he managed to find the right shots at the right time, unlike his performance against Medvedev, saying it was “anyone’s game for most of the game.”
He said Thiem, who won his first Grand Slam at the US Open in September, would be a tough opponent.
“Obviously earlier in his career he played his best on clay, but of course being one of the hardest workers on the tour, the most dedicated players, Dominic found his match.” “on all other surfaces,” Djokovic added.
“His first Slam was on hard courts earlier this year in New York. I played it last year here – I lost 7-6 in the third set. It was a really exciting game. J ‘hope we can have another great game but this time with a different result. “
Djokovic, who recently tied Pete Sampras’ record of six year-end world number one finals, has the chance to end the coronavirus-truncated 2020 season in style by joining Federer absent on six titles.
Medvedev will face eighth seed Diego Schwartzman in the evening game, which is a dead rubber.
The O2 Arena hosts the event for the 12th and final season before the championships move to Turin.
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