Djokovic reaches

Oman Daily Observer - - TENNIS/CRICKET -

SHANG­HAI: No­vak Djokovic will rise to num­ber two in the world af­ter he dis­man­tled a shell-shocked Alexan­der Zverev 6-2, 6-1 on Satur­day to surge into the Shang­hai Masters fi­nal.

Cel­e­brat­ing his 1,000 match in style, the 14-time Grand Slam win­ner was clin­i­cal as he lined up a po­ten­tial ti­tle show­down on Sun­day with reign­ing cham­pion Roger Fed­erer.

Top seed Fed­erer plays 13th seed Borna Coric of Croa­tia in the other semi­fi­nal.

Djokovic will be up a place to sec­ond in the world — over­tak­ing 20time Grand Slam cham­pion Fed­erer — when the rank­ings are re­leased on Mon­day.

He is des­per­ate to take in­jured Rafael Nadal’s num­ber one spot be­fore the year is out, and on this ev­i­dence, he will.

The 31-year-old Ser­bian is in im­pe­ri­ous form and this was his 17th ATP vic­tory in a row, as he taught ris­ing Ger­man star Zverev a harsh les­son.

Djokovic, who had el­bow surgery in Fe­bru­ary but re­cov­ered to win Wim­ble­don and then the US Open last month, said: “Be­ing num­ber two af­ter this tour­na­ment is also a great achieve­ment, con­sid­er­ing the first four, five months of the year and con­sid­er­ing I had the surgery.

“And where I was about four months ago and where I am to­day is quite an ex­treme op­po­site.

“I’m just cher­ish­ing that achieve­ment and ev­ery mo­ment spent on the court.”

The 21-year-old Zverev made an iffy start, be­gin­ning his first ser­vice game with a dou­ble-fault.

The world num­ber five — who beat Djokovic in their only pre­vi­ous meet­ing, last year in the Rome Masters fi­nal — re­cov­ered his poise for a time.

The first set went with serve, and some big serves at that, un­til Djokovic grabbed the break to go 4-2 up.

Zverev threat­ened to un­ravel and con­ceded the set in barely 30 min­utes af­ter land­ing a rou­tine smash into the net, to gasps from the arena.

The fourth seed, who is yet to win a Grand Slam de­spite his un­doubted tal­ent, an­grily threw his rac­quet at the start of the sec­ond set as Djokovic ramped up the pres­sure.

An in­creas­ingly ex­as­per­ated Zverev is­sued more pun­ish­ment to his rac­quet at 3-1 down, earn­ing a code vi­o­la­tion and toss­ing the bat­tered piece into the crowd.

Zverev was dis­missed bru­tally in ex­actly one hour.

He called it a “weird” match and said he was never close to his best.

But he had ful­some praise for Djokovic, say­ing: “He’s prob­a­bly the best player in the world right now.

“He’s def­i­nitely at the high­est level he’s maybe ever been, or maybe equal to it.”

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