Alexander Zverev became the first German to reach the final of the Nitto ATP Finals in 22 years when he stunned 6-time champion of the event Roger Federer in straights sets, winning 7-5 7-6 in an 1 hour and 34 minutes. Zverev joins fellow countryman Boris Becker who was the last German to reach the showpiece event of the season-ending finale in 1996.
For Roger Federer this was another match that highlighted his consistently erratic serving particularly in the opening set when succumbed to the scoreboard pressure. Both players had comprehensively been holding serve for the first eleven games, before Federer was broken at 5-6. That break of serve, which included a stunning forehand passing shot from Zverev to take a 0-30 lead, was crucial. The Swiss was broken to love to concede the set.
The thought of Zverev maintaining his momentum was short-lived. Federer broke the German’s big serve for the first time in the match in the third game of the second set. However, as many of the followers for the second seed noted this week, this proved another hurdle to consolidate the break. Federer was broken back immediately and from that moment on Zverev felt the match was firmly in his grasp.
Both players continued to hold serve to force a tiebreak which contained one contentious memoment. While on serve, Federer was 4-3 up in the breaker when Zverev stopped a point midway through the rally because a ball kid far behind Federer’s left dropped the ball to the court. This prompted Carlos Bernades to request for a replay point which Zverev subsequently won by firing an ace. That seemed to upset Federer who then gave away a crucial minibreak when he volleyed into the net with the open court at his mercy.
Zverev took the match on his second match point with a cross court backhand winner to reach his first final of the Nitto ATP Finals. He will play either Kevin Anderson or World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the pair who will contest the second semifinal. Zverev has already played Djokovic during the round robin stage and lost in straight sets, but he will be spurred to repeat his heroics from knocking out Federer if he meets the Serb again.