Djokovic stuns Zverev to race into the fi­nal

Coric knocks out de­fend­ing cham­pion Federer

Bangkok Post - - TENNIS -

>> 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.

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