Coric de­liv­ers knock­out to Fed­erer

De­fend­ing cham­pion says he lacked punch as Croat sets up Shang­hai fi­nal with Djokovic

The National - News - - SPORT -

No­vak Djokovic will take on Borna Coric in the Shang­hai Masters fi­nal to­day af­ter the Croa­t­ian and 13th seed com­fort­ably de­feated top seed and de­fend­ing cham­pion Roger Fed­erer.

Djokovic pro­duced a flaw­less per­for­mance to thrash fourth seed Alexan­der Zverev 6-2, 6-1 in the first semi-fi­nal yes­ter­day, the vic­tory guar­an­tee­ing the 31-year-old Serb a move up to No 2 in the world rank­ings.

Cel­e­brat­ing his 1,000 ATP Tour-level match in style, the 14-time grand slam win­ner was clin­i­cal, need­ing only an hour to de­feat Ger­many’s Zverev and con­tinue his im­pe­ri­ous form to claim his 17th ATP vic­tory in a row.

“Be­ing No 2 af­ter this tour­na­ment is also a great achieve­ment, con­sid­er­ing the first four, five months of the year and con­sid­er­ing I had the surgery,” said Djokovic, who had el­bow surgery in Fe­bru­ary but re­cov­ered to win Wim­ble­don and then the US Open last month.

“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.”

Zverev, 21, called it a “weird” match and said he was never close to his best.

The Ger­man world No 5 was vis­i­bly irate, even smash­ing his rac­quet be­fore throw­ing it into the crowd.

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

“He’s def­i­nitely at the high­est

Djokovic thrashed fourth seed Alexan­der Zverev, a vic­tory guar­an­tee­ing the Serb a move up to No 2 in the world rank­ings

level he’s maybe ever been, or maybe equal to it.”

Djokovic will look to ex­tend his win­ning run against Coric, af­ter the Croa­t­ian stunned Fed­erer 6-4, 6-4 in what was an un­usu­ally er­ror-strewn per­for­mance from the 20-time grand slam cham­pion.

Fed­erer has not been at his best all week, drop­ping sets in the two open­ing matches of his wob­bly ti­tle de­fence.

The 37-year-old Swiss was more like his old self on Fri­day, de­feat­ing eighth seed Kei Nishikori in two high-qual­ity sets. But he made a slow start against Coric, ranked No 19 in the world, get­ting bro­ken in the first game.

There was a sub­tle shake of the head when Fed­erer sim­i­larly lost his serve at the start of the sec­ond set.

“I thought he was bet­ter, I think he had more punch on the ball. He served bet­ter,” said Fed­erer, pro­claim­ing him­self pleased over­all with his form.

“I feel like I’m ex­plo­sive out there, re­turn­ing well,” he added. “Serv­ing, I think, it’s okay, could be even a lit­tle bit bet­ter.

“I don’t think I played a match where I didn’t get bro­ken, so that’s some­thing a bit more un­usual for me.”

Fed­erer won the Aus­tralian Open at the start of this year but has had a medi­ocre sea­son by his sky-high stan­dards.

He ex­ited the US Open in the last 16 at the hands of un­her­alded Aus­tralian John Mill­man, ranked 55th, and only made the quar­ter-fi­nals at Wim­ble­don.

In con­trast, Coric, who is into his first Masters 1000 fi­nal, was largely un­trou­bled on his serve, and has now beaten Fed­erer twice – the pre­vi­ous time was in the fi­nal at Halle this year.

AFP

Croa­tia’s Borna Coric, ranked No 19 in the world, cap­i­talised on a slow start by Roger Fed­erer to win 6-4, 6-4

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