Getty Images

Novak Djokovic closes in on semifinals at ATP Finals

Leave a comment

LONDON — Novak Djokovic won his second straight match at the ATP Finals, beating Alexander Zverev on Wednesday to close in on a spot in the semifinals.

The five-time champion from Serbia saved two break points at 4-4 in the opening set and then broke Zverev in the following game to take the lead.

Zverev won only one more game.

The only result from Wednesday’s late match that can prevent Djokovic from advancing would be a straight-set victory for Marin Cilic over John Isner.

After defeating Cilic in his opening match, Zverev still has a chance to become the first German since 2003 to advance to the semifinals of the season-ending competition.

The top-ranked Djokovic and third-seeded Zverev engaged in a number of thrilling exchanges early on, but it wasn’t until the ninth game that Zverev earned the first break point of the match, aided by a friendly net cord. Djokovic saved it with a service winner but then double-faulted to give the 21-year-old another opportunity.

Zverev played a great defensive forehand slice to set up a chance to finish the point with a backhand lob, but his attempt drifted just wide and Djokovic held on for 5-4.

Zverev then made a spate of errors in the next game to bring up set point for Djokovic, and double-faulted to hand the Serb the lead.

The 21-year-old Zverev rallied from 0-30 down in his next service game to hold, but that was the last of his resistance.

Djokovic broke for a 3-1 lead and then lost just one more point as he remained on track to equal Roger Federer’s six titles at the tournament.

Victory at the O2 Arena would cap a remarkable season for Djokovic, who has already secured the year-end No. 1 ranking after dropping as low as 22nd in June.

The 31-year-old ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought by winning Wimbledon in July before collecting his 14th major trophy at the U.S. Open two months later.

Djokovic too hot for Chardy at Shanghai Masters

Getty Images
Leave a comment

SHANGHAI — Novak Djokovic, the hottest player on the men’s tour in the second half of the year, never faced a break point on serve in putting away Jeremy Chardy of France at the Shanghai Masters on Tuesday.

Djokovic’s second-round victory improved his perfect record against the 41st-ranked Chardy to 12-0 in matches played, and 28-0 in sets won.

“I’m very grateful to play on a high level,” Djokovic said. “I’m very close to my best.”

The Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion, Djokovic is hoping to win a record fourth Shanghai title this week.

Fifth-seeded Marin Cilic became the highest seed toppled in Shanghai when 48th-ranked Nicolas Jarry of Chile rebounded for a second-round win.

Cilic served for the match at 5-4 in the third set but couldn’t. Jarry won the next two games to advance to the third round.

Australian Matthew Ebden upset sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem in a nearly three-hour encounter.

The win over the seventh-ranked Thiem is the best of the 51st-ranked Ebden’s career.

Thiem has played in Shanghai four times and has never advanced to the third round.

A couple of champions from last weekend also progressed.

Nikoloz Basilashvili, who downed Juan Martin del Potro for the China Open title on Sunday, won his sixth straight match after beating Denis Shapovalov to open his Shanghai account.

Up to a career-high ranking of 23, Basilashvili never faced a break point on his serve. The Georgian earned his first win in Shanghai after qualifying in 2015 and 2017.

Daniil Medvedev, who upset Kei Nishikori to win the Japan Open on Sunday, struggled but beat Chinese wild card Zhang Ze.

Also, French qualifier Benoit Paire upset 15th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta.

Djokovic wins battle with his ‘other me’ to beat Sandgren

AP
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) Novak Djokovic had become rattled by Tennys Sandgren and a boisterous Arthur Ashe Stadium that knocked him off his game.

But his most troublesome antagonist at the U.S. Open came from within.

“The other me,” Djokovic said with a smile, “that my first me doesn’t like.”

The alternate version of himself that Djokovic detests – when his mind, more than his skill, becomes the problem – surfaced in a puzzling third set when the 31-year-old Serb was only one point from victory but couldn’t close the deal.

“You just have to accept it sometimes,” Djokovic said. “But that’s being a human being, I guess. Not human doing.”

Whatever it was, Djokovic straightened himself and kept on a path toward a third U.S. Open championship .

Djokovic wasted a match point in the third set, before going on to win 6-1, 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 against Sandgren on Thursday night at the U.S. Open to reach the third round.

Djokovic had a much easier victory over Sandgren, an American ranked 61st, in Wimbledon’s first round this year, dropping only six games in all.

The 13-time major champion seemed to be along the same path at Flushing Meadows, standing one point from victory while leading 5-4 in the third set as Sandgren served at 30-40. But Sandgren ended an 11-stroke exchange with a forehand winner, then took the tiebreaker .

Sandgren, who made a surprising run to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, noticed Djokovic’s dip in the third.

“It’s tough to stay really focused and clean for three full sets. It’s just difficult to do,” Sandgren said. “If anybody can do it, he can. But he definitely blinked there for a moment.”

Djokovic, the 2011 and 2015 champion, regained the upper hand with an early break in the fourth and was on his way.

But it wasn’t a fan-friendly victory.

Djokovic whined at Wimbledon when he was booed at times on Centre Court and he complained again at the U.S. Open about fans who turned the night session into a bit of a party.

He got on the fans during his post-match interview on the court for talking during points and said he lost his concentration.

“You can’t expect that 23,000 people are quiet,” he said. “That’s the beauty of night session U.S. Open. Everybody knows that. Wimbledon is all white, it’s tradition. You can’t hear a sound when you play a point. Here it’s different. That’s why these majors are unique in their own way.”

He has reunited with coach Marian Vajda – they briefly parted ways and Djokovic had a brief dalliance with Andre Agassi – to marked improvement. Djokovic knocked off Roger Federer in August to win a title in Cincinnati and a renewed focus with Vajda has been a key factor.

“When he came back, obviously we had to analyze what has happened in the last 12 months that we were not together and try to understand the situation with my body, with my game,” Djokovic said.

Djokovic, who missed last year’s Open with a sore elbow, won his 13th Grand Slam title this year at Wimbledon.

To get 14, he’ll have to keep his “other me” under wraps.

More AP tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis