Zverev tames lacklustre Federer

Germany's Alexander Zverev hitting a forehand during yesterday's semi-final against Switzerland's Roger Federer, whom he defeated 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).
Germany's Alexander Zverev hitting a forehand during yesterday's semi-final against Switzerland's Roger Federer, whom he defeated 7-5, 7-6 (7-5).PHOTO: REUTERS

German world No. 5 attributes his success to the kind words of the very man he defeated

LONDON • Roger Federer's hopes of winning his 100th career title with a record-extending seventh ATP Finals crown ended yesterday at the hands of Alexander Zverev.

The world No. 3 lost 7-5, 7-6 (7-5) to the German at the O2 Arena after putting up a lacklustre display by his standards.

Zverev will advance to today's final to take on either Novak Djokovic or Kevin Anderson. The result of their clash was unavailable at press time.

"I'm unbelievably proud," said an emotional Zverev.

"My team and me have been working so hard for this.

"I'm a little bit upset now about how it all ended, I didn't want it to end that way, but hopefully I'll have many more great matches here."

He was referring to an incident during the tiebreak when he called for a halt, after spotting a ball boy accidentally dropping a ball.

The crowd, who were mostly backing Federer, felt it disrupted the Swiss' momentum and booed.

However, as the 37-year-old struggled, Zverev only got stronger as the match wore on and few could argue with his victory.

Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker commented on BBC during the game: "Zverev looks physically strong, I don't see any weakness or slowdown."

The 21-year-old Zverev has yet to win an ATP Finals title or a Grand Slam, but he has three titles this season, including a third Masters 1000 in Madrid.

He is now the first German to reach the final since Becker in 1996, and the youngest finalist since Juan Martin del Potro in 2009.

The world No. 5, now under the watchful eye of eight-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl, attributed his success to the man he defeated.

Shortly after Zverev lost to South Korean Chung Hyeon in January's Australian Open, he was treated to a few kind words from Federer.

"I was very upset about my loss. I had a tough match, another tough loss at a Grand Slam," said Zverev ahead of yesterday's clash.

"He (Federer) was talking about that, that I shouldn't get too upset. He made his first quarter-final much later in his career, as well."

Former world No. 1 Mats Wilander believes the appointment of Lendl could be a key decision for Zverev going forward.

"He is not panicking any more. There is still room for improvement. It's going to help him tremendously to have someone like Ivan with his experience," he said.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 18, 2018, with the headline 'Zverev tames lacklustre Federer'. Print Edition | Subscribe