Could history be about to be made at the ATP World Tour Finals?
That’s the question after Alexander Zverev’s impressive win on Sunday night.
Zverev was outstanding from start to finish, taking the final three sets in an epic contest against Roger Federer on the back of a win in the wildcard semifinal match against John Isner earlier in the day. He converted two of three break points and stamped his authority on the match from the start, racing to a 3-0 lead on his way to a comfortable 6-3, 7-6 (3) victory.
Zverev has never been past the quarterfinals at the season-ending tournament. But on Sunday, he returned a different man after experiencing a tough start to the ATP season. The 20-year-old talented German is in a long line of such young players, including world No. 1 and five-time former winner Andy Murray.
He is on a monstrous run. He is tied for fifth on the season in terms of the Grand Slams won (Stanislas Wawrinka has won more), and this is the first time that Zverev has defeated Federer in the year-end tournament. He can now set his sights on Roger Murray, who holds the distinction of winning the tournament the most number of times (six).
Despite going off-form in the second half of the season after upsetting Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semifinals, Murray was the class of the field during the final week of the season, defeating both Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro to seal his first ATP Tour Finals victory in three years.
With a victory against Federer, Zverev can complete an undefeated record against the Swiss maestro, who had beaten him in their previous three meetings on clay. He will also have beaten his best challenger during the ATP season.
Victory against Federer would help Zverev establish himself as a player who could go all the way in the sport’s big events.
He already beat Andy Murray on clay at the Italian Open in the fourth round of the French Open and could go to Melbourne confident about advancing further than the semifinals for the first time at a Masters 1000 event.
A playoff between Murray and Federer at the Australian Open final could be the last case where a young German man breaks into the sporting stratosphere.
Considering the lagging performances of German tennis over the past three decades, the last one had a lot to do with the Wimbledon champion.
It was the days of Boris Becker and Michael Stich. The last one of any much importance happened in the early part of the last century, when Michael Horn played an impressive final against Marat Safin. In that match, Horn was virtually flawless, losing just seven points on his serve in the entire contest to go out in four sets.
With a three-set win over Federer, Zverev can exorcise the demons of the last five or so years and say that we had once again faced the German of destiny.
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