LONDON – Germany’s Alexander Zverev defeated world number one Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 to win the ATP Finals championship for the first time in London on Sunday.
Zverev, who is the first German to win a season-ending title since Boris Becker in 1995, broke Djokovic for the first time in the tournament to lead 5-4 before serving three aces and forcing his rival into error to earn the advantage.
The reigning Wimbledon and US Open champion Djokovic was broken twice early in the second set as he fell behind 3-1 to the world number five.
Zverev sealed the biggest win of his career with a brilliant backhand pass to confirm his as the champion after one hour and 20 minutes.
The 21-year-old is the youngest winner of the ATP Finals since Djokovic won his first of five titles at the same age in 2008.
“I really can’t describe it. It’s the biggest title I’ve won in my career,” said Zverev.
“Novak has been incredible and he’s barely lost a match but I’m glad you lost one to me today.”
Zverev is now coached by five-time tour finals champion and eight-time grand slam winner Ivan Lendl.
“Ivan thanks for joining the team,” added Zverev.
“Even though he won’t stop crying until next year and can barely understand what I’m saying.”
Zverev, who has three Masters titles to his name, has now beaten a past and present number one to claim his maiden Finals title after he dispatched Roger Federer in a straight sets semi-final on Saturday.
Djokovic meanwhile, was aiming to equal Federer’s record of wins at the tournament, chasing his sixth championship.
The 31-year-old Serb had not been broken on serve all week, facing only two break points against Zverev in their earlier group match to win 6-4, 6-1, and completing 36 successful service games en route to his seventh season-ending final.
However, Djokovic finally caved under pressure in game nine at 4-4, firing a forehand long before dumping a shot into the net to hand the young German the first break.
Zverev built up his serving momentum to 40-0 with three aces and Djokovic dropped his first set of the tournament when his return landed out of bounds.
He didn’t have to wait long for the next break as Zverev capped an enthralling rally with a forehand winner to open the second set with the first of three straight breaks.
Djokovic broke right back but the top seed netted twice to concede another break, allowing Zverev to cement a 3-1 gap on serve.
Zverev hit a cross-court forehand winner for 5-3 before Djokovic unravelled in the following game.
The 14-time grand slam winner double-faulted and unleashed a wild backhand to unlock championship points for Zverev.
Zverev then rallied patiently before lifting over a backhand pass down the line to finish his season with a fourth title and a tour-leading 58th match win over the world’s top-ranked player. -DPA