The Morning Call

Djokovic heads to semis at ATP Fi­nals

No. 2 Nadal, No. 3 Thiem and No. 4 Medvedev in semi­fi­nals

- Sports · Tennis · Novak Djokovic · ATP World Tour Finals · London · Alexander Zverev · Dominic Thiem · Rafael Nadal · Daniil Medvedev · United States of America · Diego Schwartzman · Argentine

LON­DON — No­vak Djokovic en­sured the world’s top four play­ers reached the semi­fi­nals of the ATP Fi­nals for the first time since 2004 by elim­i­nat­ing Alexan­der Zverev 6-3, 7-6 (4) on Fri­day.

The top-ranked Djokovic lined up Do­minic Thiem on Satur­day as he goes for a record-ty­ing sixth ti­tle at the sea­son-end­ing tour­na­ment, and a first since 2015.

No. 2-ranked Rafael Nadal will take on No. 4 Daniil Medvedev in the se­cond semi­fi­nal. Nadal is try­ing for the 10th time to win his first ATP Fi­nals crown.

Medvedev warmed up by blow­ing away Diego Schwartz­man 6-3, 6-3 late Fri­day in the empty O2 Arena, top­ping their group with three wins in six sets.

Djokovic pulled out his own big serves in the im­por­tant mo­ments to reach the semi­fi­nals for the ninth time, no­tably in the tiebreaker when he re­cov­ered from a 2-0 deficit.

“Con­trary to the last match against Daniil,” said Djokovic, re­fer­ring to a straight-set loss to Medvedev on Wed­nes­day, “I man­aged to find the right shots at the right time.”

Djokovic broke for 2-0 lead when Zverev dou­ble­faulted on the se­cond break point. He saved two break points at 4-2 be­fore clinch­ing the set with a back­hand down the line as he closed in on the net fol­low­ing a serve out wide.

Zverev’s ground­strokes and pow­er­ful serve posed more prob­lems for Djokovic in the se­cond set, and the Ger­man gained an early ad­van­tage in the tiebreaker by reach­ing a drop shot be­fore hit­ting an un­re­turn­able smash to lead 2-0.

Djokovic then won five of the next six points and, on his first match point, found the base­line with a pen­e­trat­ing fore­hand which Zverev could slice only into the net on the stretch.

“In the tiebreaker, again I served well when I needed to close out the match,” Djokovic said.

Thiem, the U.S. Open cham­pion, won a third-set tiebreaker to beat Djokovic in group play last year, help­ing to elim­i­nate the Serb be­fore the semi­fi­nals.

“It was re­ally a thrilling match,” Djokovic said, “so hope­fully we can have another great match, this time with a dif­fer­ent out­come.”

Medvedev hit 31 winners against Schwartz­man and broke the Ar­gen­tine three times.

The Rus­sian has gone 3-0 in group play af­ter go­ing 0-3 on de­but last year.

“I was play­ing great in pre­vi­ous matches and it’s al­ways good to stay un­de­feated for the con­fi­dence,” Medvedev said.

Nadal has a 3-0 record against him but the last two matches were bat­tles: Nadal won their 2019 U.S. Open fi­nal in five sets, and came from 5-1 down in the last set of their ATP Fi­nals group match a year ago.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to to­mor­row,” Medvedev said. “It was re­ally a thrilling match,” Djokovic said, “so hope­fully we can have another great match, this time with a dif­fer­ent out­come.”

Medvedev will be go­ing for a third straight group vic­tory when he plays al­ready-elim­i­nated Diego Schwartz­man in the late match.

 ?? FRANK AUGSTEIN/AP ?? No­vak Djokovic plays a re­turn to Alexan­der Zverev dur­ing their sin­gles match Fri­day.
FRANK AUGSTEIN/AP No­vak Djokovic plays a re­turn to Alexan­der Zverev dur­ing their sin­gles match Fri­day.

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