It wasn’t the greatest of matches and in that respect, the final of the ATP Finals was disappointing, for an electrifying clash between two players expected to rule the tennis world over the next decade, was hoped for.
I am super thrilled and happy right now, There is no better way to end the season than winning here. I am incredibly happy, and I am already looking forward to next year. Alexander Zverev
As it marked the first edition of the season-ending event for the top eight players to be held in Turin after 12 successful years at the O2 in London, it must have been a disappointing finish after a week of exciting tennis.
The match lacked fire but that could be put down to the excellent serving of Alexander Zverev who basically dominated the defending champion Daniil Mededev for the whole match to become the end-of-season champion for a second time in his career, 6-4 6-4.
Zverev took command from the start, as he struck a huge backhand into the corner and then produced a winner with the help of a net cord to break Medvedev’s serve in the third game.
The fast conditions inside the Pala Alpitour, suited Zverev who was virtually untouchable on serve, winning 20 of 25 points in the first set.
Zverev broke again in the opening game of the second and grew in confidence as he strode towards the finishing line.
Medvedev, one of the most consistent players on the tour, might well have been off his game but on the other side of the coin, Zverev – who, 24-hours earlier had beaten the world number Novak Djokovic – was again patient and by controlling himself he was able to keep his rival on the back foot throughout the final.
“Sascha is a great player to be able to break me two times, which actually sometimes is in a way not too bad.” Medvedev said after his loss.
“When you play in a Master’s final on a fast surface, somebody serving like Sascha, it’s enough to win the match.”
Ending the Russian’s reign as champion, and his 9-match unbeaten run at the event, proved very satisfying for the German.
“I’m obviously happy with how the season went. I’m happy with the finish of the season,” Zverev said. “It was obviously a great year. To capture the title here has been incredible.”
Zverev, who had lost his last five meetings with Medvedev, was also happy that he ended that series and drawn back level with six wins apiece.
It also avenged the only defeat he had suffered this week in his group match with the Russian, a loss which in fact spurred him on in the final.
“I won the Finals; in the final, against someone I had lost five times in a row, so I had to play one of my best matches. I am happy about that and happy to go on holiday with this win,” Zverev added.
“I am super thrilled and happy right now,” he continued. “There is no better way to end the season than winning here. I am incredibly happy, and I am already looking forward to next year.”
His victory was certainly a turn-up for not only had Zverev, earlier in the week – as mentioned – lost a very tight group match to Medvedev, but he had also been defeated two weeks earlier by the Russian in the semi-finals of the Paris Masters where he only scored four games.
“We all try to do something different, to prepare differently or play differently,” Medvedev revealed. “I felt he was doing something differently. Maybe I lost the first break of serve because of this, but at the same time if you make aces you get into the match.
“I tried to change up things I’d been doing, and I felt it was working well, but I just couldn’t return his serve and it was enough for him to win the match,” he went on.
“Every time you know he is going to do something new and you have to be prepared for it and the same for them. This time he won, but next time I will try to do something better and try to do something better than him and win.”
The win also lifts Zverev to the top of the ‘titles won’ board for 2021 with six including the Olympic Gold and improves his career record of titles to 19 but is still missing a grand slam title which he just missed out in in New York in 2020. That now becomes a major target for next season.
“I have succeeded on every single level, and there’s one thing missing,” Zverev admitted with reference to the lack of a major title in his record. “I hope I can do that next year.”
But on Sunday, the 24-year-old from Hamburg, the third seed, can take pleasure in his achievement and performance during the week which includes consecutive wins over the world numbers one and two.
“You go into the match knowing that you’re playing one of the two best players in the world. I knew that I had to play my best tennis to beat him,” Zverev acknowledged, having also won the most matches this year with 59, one more than Medvedev.
“I did that today. I think I played a very good match. I’m happy with my level. I’m happy with the performance I had.”
One can only conclude that if Zverev’s performance this weekend can provide any indication for the future, then a lot can be expected from the German in 2022.
In the doubles final the French pairing of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut became the champions at the expense of Rajeev Ram of the US and Britain’s Joe Salisbury, winning 6-4 7-6(0).
Salisbury became the first Briton to reach the doubles final in the event’s history.