WATCH—Roger Federer press conference after win over Kevin Anderson:
Alexander Zverev edged John Isner in a tight two-setter on Friday afternoon, 7-6 (5), 6-3, to qualify for the semifinals of the ATP Finals and set up a blockbuster final-four clash with Roger Federer.
Zverev and Isner both came out strong on serve, neither player facing a single break point in the first 11 games of the match. Isner was the first to make a move on the return, ripping a huge forehand winner to bring up the first break point—which was also a set point—with Zverev serving at 5-6, 30-40.
Zverev fought that set point off with an ace and held, sending the first set to a tiebreaker, and the German eventually capitalized on his first set point up 6-5 when Isner missed a forehand into the net.
The second set stayed on serve until Zverev broke for 5-3 and swiftly served out the match.
“The first set was unbelievably tight,” Zverev said in his on-court interview. “John was such a tough opponent today. His last few matches could’ve gone both ways, really. It always comes down to one or two points against John—we’ve always had tough matches, and so many of them have gone to three sets. It’s always a tough affair. Today I just came up with some great shots in the tie-break.
“Obviously I’m unbelievably happy to be in the semifinals now.”
Zverev finished the match with a +15 differential of winners to unforced errors, 25-10, his biggest weapon by far on the day being his serve—he hit an incredible 18 aces to just two double faults.
“Obviously the serve is a big weapon in our games,” he said. “We’re always trying to improve it and put a little bit extra on it. I’ve been working hard on it and maybe it’s starting to come together now.”
With Friday’s win, Zverev finishes second in Group Guga Kuerten behind Novak Djokovic, who is guaranteed to finish first in their round robin group no matter how he does against Marin Cilic later.
Zverev now has a semifinal match against Federer, who finished first in Group Lleyton Hewitt.
“We’ve played so many times against each other in my short career,” Zverev said. “He’s leading one win over me, but I hope I can try to change that. It’s going to be tough but I look forward to it.”
Federer indeed leads Zverev in their head-to-head series, 3-2, but this will be their first meeting this year. Their last meeting came almost exactly a year ago in the round robin of the 2017 ATP Finals, where Federer prevailed, 7-6 (6), 5-7, 6-1. That was also their only previous meeting indoors.
The other semi is also set: Djokovic against Kevin Anderson. Djokovic leads that head-to-head, 7-1.
This Week on Tennis Channel:
ATP Finals (Sun – Sun 11.11 – 11.18) – Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and the world’s best collide in the season Finale. Live coverage begins on Tennis Channel Sunday at 7:00am EST.