Alex Zverev won the most prestigious prize of his fledgling career on Sunday night when he beat the world number one Novak Djokovic to lift the ATP Finals trophy. The 21-year-old German – touted as a future world number one – saw off the incumbent supremo 6-4 6-3.
The victory avenged a straight sets defeat four days earlier in the pool stages of the eight man end of season championships.
Djokovic, 31, was the favourite for a record equaling sixth title at the tournament. He had won Grand Slam championships at Wimbledon and the US Open as well as crowns at two Masters 1000 events – esteemed just below the Grand Slams.
The Serb had not lost his service in his four previous matches at the 02 Arena in south-east London. But he cracked for the first time when serving to take a 5-4 lead in the first set.
Zverev then fired down three aces to take the opener 6-4.
“I wasn’t returning well,” said Djokovic after the defeat. “I wasn’t making him move too much. I was making way too many unforced errors. From 4-4 in the first set, my game really fell apart, to be honest. But credit to him because he played solid.”
Zverev is the youngest winner of the title since a 20-year-old Djokovic claimed the first of his five crowns in Shanghai in 2008.
And Zverev swept to join a roster of illlustrious previous winners impressively. On Saturday in the semi-final, he dispatched the five time champion Roger Federer 7-5 7-6 and he was as clinical against the top seed the following day.
“Obviously it’s quite astonishing, winning this title and beating two such players back-to-back, Roger and Novak,” said Zverev. “It means so much. I’m incredibly happy and incredibly proud.”