Djokovic stuns Zverev to race into the final
Coric knocks out defending champion Federer
>> SHANGHAI: Novak Djokovic will rise to No.2 in the world after he dismantled a shell-shocked Alexander Zverev 6-2, 6-1 yesterday 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 title showdown today with 13th seed Borna Coric.
The 21-year-old Croat knocked out top seed and defending champion Roger Federer of Switzerland in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 in the other semifinal in front of a full-house crowd at Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena in Shanghai.
Djokovic will be up a place to second in the world — overtaking 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer — when the rankings are released tomorrow.
He is desperate to take injured Rafael Nadal’s No.1 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 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.
“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 No.5 — who beat Djokovic in their only previous meeting, last year in the Rome Masters final — recovered his poise for a brief while.
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.”
DAVIS CUP CONTROVERSY
Novak Djokovic was due to hold talks with Barcelona star Gerard Pique yesterday in a bid to find a resolution over the controversial new-format Davis Cup.
Under a plan proposed by Pique’s Kosmos group and adopted by the International Tennis Federation, the competition will bring together 18 nations for a week at the end of the tennis season for a championship finale.
In November 2019 and 2020 that will be Madrid, but top tennis stars including Djokovic and Roger Federer have suggested they will not take part because it is at the end of a long season.
Djokovic, a prominent member of the ATP Player Council, on Thursday said he is committed to the rival ATP World Team Cup, set to take place weeks after the Davis Cup at the start of 2020.
Yesterday, moments before heading off to meet Pique, the 14-time Grand Slam champion reiterated that the two tournaments “cannot coexist on a high level, especially as they are so close to each other”.
The 31-year-old Barcelona defender Pique is at the Shanghai Masters because there is an international break in the football season and he has retired from Spain duty.
Novak Djokovic gestures to spectators after winning his semi-final match against Alexander Zverev.