London | Zverev to take on Federer
ALEXANDER ‘Sascha’ Zverev will take on Roger Federer for a place in the final at the Nitto ATP Finals insisting he has enough left in his tank to try and end his rival’s hopes of a 100th career title.
He’s got one win over me (3-2). Hope to change that. It will be a tough match. Hope I’ll be ready for it. Alexander Zverev
Zverev declared “I haven’t felt my best in two months” and that the length of the season was “ridiculous” after fading to defeat against Novak Djokovic on Wednesday.
But when asked whether he had the energy to try and gain revenge on Federer, who beat him at the event last year, he said: “For sure.
“We’ve played so many times against Fed in my short career. He’s got one win over me (3-2). Hope to change that. It will be a tough match. Hope I’ll be ready for it.”
But it seems he could be facing a legend seemingly unimpressed with his complaints about the campaign.
Zverev has learned Federer believes that “players need to be more disciplined with their schedule rather than complaining they have to turn up every week”.
The German retorted: “Roger is older, so he has different rules from the ATP. He can skip two Masters Series. He doesn’t have to play all the 500 events. I have to play all the four Grand Slams, all the nine Masters events, and I have to play four 500 events outside of that. Actually I even played a 250 event as well.
“It’s not about the amount of tennis we play inside of that year, it’s how long we have off. Even if you’re not playing for a week in a tournament, you can’t take that week off. You have to be training, you have to be preparing.
“My argument is always we don’t have time to prepare. We finish here, we go for a 10-day holiday, then we train for two weeks, then we go to Australia. That’s more my thinking behind it. It’s not the amount of matches that we play inside of those weeks, it’s more about how much off time we can actually have.”
The 21-year-old claimed his first semi-final place at just the second attempt when he beat John Isner 7-6 6-3 in the rivals’ third and final group match at the O2 on Friday.
It completed the last-four line-up with top seed Novak Djokovic meeting Kevin Anderson in the remaining semi-final.
There were shades of Andy Murray in the third seed’s victory.
Zverev’s on-looking coach Ivan Lendl was in the Brit’s player box when Murray made the last-four two years ago.
And the player at the forefront of the next generation must hope he can also repeat the Scot’s feat of going on to lift the title.
Murray sealed his triumph by defeating Djokovic and history could repeat itself with the Serb favourite to topple Anderson.
Isner went into his 02 showdown against Zverev with the slimmest of hopes. Only a straight-set victory would do.
Zverev took the tight opening set to end the American No.1’s hopes.
Isner had held a set point saved with a 143mph ace by his German opponent with Zverev going on to hold and force the tie-break.
He helped himself with impressive shot-making and a power serve comparable to the bombs 6ft.10in Isner threw down.
Zverev said: “Unbelievably happy to be in the semi finals. Have such a good run in the last tournament of the year.
“John’s such a tough opponent. The first set was unbelievably tight. I came up with some great shots in the tie break which helped.”
Isner, 33, said: “I think the match was my best match (of his three in the group) actually. When I had chances, when the ball was in play, I felt like I was playing my best and playing aggressively.
“But for the most part he served me off the court for a lot of the match. When the ball was in play, I was very happy with how I played more so than my previous two matches.
“Even though I went 0-fer here, I felt like I ended this season on a pretty positive note. I played a positive match. I went for my shots.”