Djokovic And Zverev to Bring Tennis Season to a Close4 min read
Novak Djokovic v Alex Zverev (1800 GMT)
Novak Djokovic has been head and shoulders the best player at the ATP Finals and it’s hard to bet against him finishing things off with what would be a record-equalling sixth final victory in the event.
Four matches in, he is yet to lose serve and has faced only two break points. On return, he’s been breathtaking, dismantling a quartet of big servers.
He’s bidding to become first player since Ivan Lendl in 1986 to win this season-ending without losing a set and is now just 2/5 to do so; he’s 1/7 to win the match.
Those numbers help show the task in front of Zverev, although he has improved as the week has gone on and certainly produced his best performance in Saturday’s semi-finals when he took out Roger Federer.
Djokovic’s subsequent demolition of Kevin Anderson set up a rematch of the pair’s group-stage match, won 6-4 6-1 by Djokovic.
An important aspect of that result in terms of looking ahead to this contest was how the first set played out. Zverev was right with Djokovic for eight games before creating two break points in the ninth game. He failed to convert, Djokovic broke in the next game to win the set and strolled from there.
That first set was undoubtedly Djokovic’s toughest assignment of the week and it’s fair to say Zverev has picked up his level further since then.
He served well from the off against Federer in the semis and the suggested bet of this column of a first-set tie-break was bang on course until the 12th game when the Swiss cracked.
This time around you can get 10/3 about a breaker in the opening set, and if there’s value to be had surrounding Zverev challenging Djokovic It is perhaps here.
However, I can’t get past just how well Djokovic has played. His returning has been nothing short of extraordinary and the way he’s dealt with a string of top servers has been frightening.
He also faced Zverev in Shanghai recently, losing only three games that day, and so the combined 2018 match stats show Djokovic is yet to lose his own serve to the German, who has held just 53 per cent of the time. Basically, Djokovic has broken serve virtually every other game.
The relentlessness of the Serb has quickly ground down his opponents this week and Zverev was no exception the other day. Therefore I simply have to find a way to side with the world number one, who looks capable of beating anyone pretty comfortably right now.
Under 20.5 games in the match is a shade under even money which looks fair enough to me. Only Marin Cilic, in a dead rubber, has taken Djokovic beyond that line (by one game) this week and I expect the Serb to underline his class with another dominant display.
Under 20.5 games –