With the last semifinal spot up for grabs at the ATP Nitto Finals, Novak Djokovic will square off against Alexander Zverev in a winner takes all contest. It’s a ‘do or die’ match for both players, with the winner assured of qualifying for the penultimate stage. Whosoever triumphs will lock horns with the reigning US Open champion, Dominic Thiem.
Surprisingly, Djokovic suffered a humiliating loss to Daniil Medvedev in his previous group stage match. The Serbian lost his serve thrice and couldn’t handle Medvedev’s powerful forehand returns. Having won his opening round match against Diego Schwartzman, Djokovic faces a tough battle ahead.
After losing to Medvedev in straight sets in his first group-stage match, Zverev fought back to win against Schwartzman to stay alive in the tournament. The German won 73% of the points on his first serve and held his nerve at the crucial moments of the match.
The duo has played five times against each other, with Djokovic having a slight edge 3-2 in the rivalry. They last played at the quarterfinals of the 2019 Roland Garros, where Djokovic won in straight sets.
Interestingly, the duo has squared off twice at the ATP World Tour Finals. In 2018, Zverev lost to Djokovic in his round-robin match but subsequently defeated the World No.1 in the finals.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion is struggling with the service games and just got 63% of the first serves inside in his last match. Having won the tournament five times, Djokovic is stronger mentally to sail through the tense moments. However, the Serbian will have to defend well considering Zverev’s been hitting clean winners from both ends.
Having won back-to-back tournaments in Cologne and finishing as the runner-up at Paris Masters, Zverev has a strong chance to tide over Djokovic. The German needs to maintain the high intensity from the baseline and find the range on his forehand to offset Djokovic’s position. However, the No.1 seed will have a slight edge over Zverev if the match goes down to the wire.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic to win in three sets.