London: The old made way for the new as Alexander Zverev shocked world number one Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 to deny the top seed a record-levelling sixth Nitto ATP Finals at London’s O2 Arena on Sunday.
The youngest finalist at 21 years, this was Zverev’s first year-ending finals since Argentinean Juan Martin del Potro lost to Nikolai Davydenko at the ATP Finals debut at The O2 in 2009. The native of Hamburg also became the first German to reach the season-finale since Boris Becker did in 1996.
One would have thought that last Wednesday’s group match loss in straight sets must have been rankling somewhere at the back of Zverev’s mind. But that hardly showed before a packed O2 Arena three days later as Zverev played some captivating tennis to outlast an opponent who has 14 Grand Slams to his name so far.
“I really can’t describe my feelings at this moment,” Zverev told the capacity 18,000 crowd.
“Going by your current form you could win any match you want to, but appreciate you letting me win one today,” the German told Djokovic jokingly.
A dominant winner against former six-time champion Roger Federer in Saturday’s semi-final, Zverev’s patience for a break paid off in the ninth as he nudged clear 5-4, after which he sent down three successive aces to serve off the set in 39 minutes.
Watched on by star footballers David Beckham and Ivan Perisic - Croatia’s lone goalscorer in their 1-2 loss to England earlier on Sunday – the second set was more open as both exchanged early breaks to be tied 1-1.
But the German showed a lot of character while breaking Djokovic a second time and then holding for 3-1. After that it was pretty much over as Zverev maintained total control as he broke the Serb another time in the ninth to sink flat on the floor in total disbelief as Djokovic crossed over to his side to congratulate the new champion.
Showing maturity way beyond his years, Zverev became only the second German to win the ATP Finals since Becker did in 1995.
“He played much better than he did in the group stages and I think he is a deserving winner tonight,” Djokovic complimented the new champion.
“Even though I have lost today, I think I have had an amazing year and a great comeback from injury,” Djokovic added.
Earlier, Americans Mike Bryan and Jack Sock came from behind to defeat the French pair of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 5-7, 6-1, 1-0 (11) to claim the doubles title.
(Singles final) Alexander Zverev bt Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3.
(Doubles final) Mike Bryan/Jack Sock bt Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut 5-7, 6-1, 1-0 (11).