Novak Djokovic acknowledged he will have to be at his best to beat Dominic Thiem in their ATP Finals semi-final match on Saturday.

World number one Djokovic clinched a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) victory over Alexander Zverev in the final group match of the tournament to secure a last-four meeting with Thiem.

Djokovic, who is seeking to equal Roger Federer's record of six titles at the end-of-season tournament, has four career victories over Thiem but has also suffered three defeats.

Speaking in an on-court interview after his win over Zverev on Friday, Djokovic predicted a tough but an exciting match with Thiem at London's O2 Arena.

He said: "Obviously earlier in his career Dominic played his best on clay, but of course being one of the hardest workers on the ATP Tour and most dedicated players, Dominic found his A game on all other surfaces.

“His first [Grand] Slam came on hard courts earlier this year in New York. I played him last year here and lost 7-6 in the third set. It was really a thrilling match.

"Hopefully we can have another great match, but hopefully this time with another outcome."

Djokovic's victory over Zverev was his 41st victory of the year which equalled Andrey Rublev’s Tour-leading mark of 41 wins this season.

The 33-year-old Serbian was able to capitalise on an early break in the first set against Zverev before he held his nerve in a second-set tie-break to secure victory.

And despite suffering a defeat to Daniil Medvedev earlier in the tournament Djokovic said he had confidence in his abilities to come through the decisive match with Zverev.

"I felt great. Early in the first set he had a couple of break point chances. I managed to serve well in the important moments and contrary to the last match against Daniil, I just managed to find the right shots at the right time,” he added.

“I have tremendous respect for Alexander. He’s a great player, huge serve. Obviously not easy to return the 140 miles per hour first serves.

"Sometimes just have to pick your side, block, hope you can be in the exchanges in the rallies from the back of the court.

"It was really anybody’s game, I think, for most of the match. In the tie-break I just read his approach from 4-3, served well when I needed to close out the match."

Novak Djokovic booked his place in the semi-finals of the ATP Finals after a hard-fought victory over Alexander Zverev.

The five-time champion clinched a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) win over the German as he wrapped up his place in the last four at London's O2 Arena in one hour and 36 minutes.

With three semi-final spots already decided, Friday's match was a winner-takes-all showdown to see who would be the last player to progress from the group stage.

Djokovic cruised through the first set but required a tie-break to overcome his opponent in a tense second set as Zverev briefly threatened a fightback.

The 33-year-old Serbian, who won the ATP Finals in 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, will play Dominic Thiem in his semi-final on Saturday with Rafael Nadal taking on Daniil Medvedev in the other match.

World number one Djokovic had beaten Zverev three times in their past five meetings before this one and began the contest in commanding fashion.

Djokovic breezed through his opening service game, producing a superb drop volley, before he took control of the set with a key break.

Djokovic had managed just a solitary break point in the whole match during a defeat to Medvedev on Wednesday, but when offered an early chance on Zverev's serve he nailed a crosscourt passing shot before his opponent double faulted.

The early mistake cost world number seven Zverev, who was unable to find a way back in as a resolute Djokovic saved two break points at 4-2.

Djokovic then closed out his service games, as he sealed the first set with a backhand down the line which the 23-year-old Zverev had no answer for.

The second set was a much tighter affair, with both players saving break points early on, before taking charge of their respective services games to force a tie-break.

Zverev took a 2-0 lead but Djokovic got himself level and then secured the crucial mini-break with a classy backhand winner to make it 5-3.

At 6-4 Djokovic held his nerve and produced a powerful forehand to confidently reach the last four in an emphatic manner.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Djokovic - 18/13
Zverev - 38/19

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Djokovic - 3/3
Zverev  - 12/6

BREAK POINTS WON
Djokovic - 1/4
Zverev  - 0/3

Alexander Zverev got up and running in the ATP Finals with a hard-fought victory over Diego Schwartzman on Wednesday.

Zverev and Schwartzman lost their opening matches of the season-ending tournament to Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic respectively.

It was 2018 champion Zverev who boosted his chances of advancing from Group Tokyo 1970 despite not being at his best, winning 6-3 4-6 6-3 at the O2 Arena in London.

World number seven Zverev will face Djokovic in his last group match on Friday as he eyes a semi-final spot, while Schwartzman looks unlikely to advance.

Zverev made a tentative start and found himself a break down at 2-1 after drilling a forehand long, but he broke straight back as a more positive approach paid off.

The unforced errors were mounting for Schwartzman and Zverev made him pay, winning four games in a row and wrapping up the set when the Argentinian sent a forehand beyond the baseline at full stretch on the run.

Zverev forced two break points in the first game of the second and although Schwartzman hung in there to hold, he was unable to prevent the German from taking a 2-1 lead at the next attempt.

Schwartzman showed flashes of brilliance, including a couple of sublime forehand winners, and was back on serve at 3-3 after a fierce Zverev forehand struck the net cord and landed wide.

The Buenos Aires native had the initiative and took it the distance when Zverev blasted a forehand long to lose the set, then earned a code violation for angrily striking a ball high in the air before returning to his chair.

Zverev was in a far better mood after going a break up at 3-2 in the decider by finishing off a well-constructed point with a textbook backhand volley and he had a vital win when Schwartzman crashed a forehand into the net.

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 
Zverev: 30/38
Schwartzman: 21/26

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 
Zverev: 10/3
Schwartzman: 0/3

BREAK POINTS WON 
Zverev: 5/12
Schwartzman: 3/9

Daniil Medvedev recorded his maiden win at the season-ending ATP Finals as he defeated Alexander Zverev for the second time in eight days.

The Russian came out on top in an eventful first set that spanned 51 minutes on his way to recording a 6-3 6-4 triumph against a now-familiar opponent.

Medvedev lost when the pair met in the round-robin stage of the same tournament a year ago, though had come out on top in their most recent encounter, rallying from a set down in the final of the Paris Masters earlier in November.

There was no need for him to go the distance in London, however, as an erratic Zverev who struggled badly on his own serve – including sending down seven double faults – was beaten in straight sets.

Both players lost their opening service games as they struggled to take a grip on proceedings, Medvedev eventually the one to seize control as he finished strongly to seal the opener.

The second set was not so action-packed, though it did include an underarm serve from Medvedev at 30-all in the eighth game, a tactic that paid off as he won the point before offering up an apology.

By that stage the fourth seed had already recorded a break to edge himself ahead, a lead he retained comfortably enough to allow him to serve out the victory.

An angled backhand winner on the run saw Medvedev finish with a flourish, setting him up nicely for a clash with Novak Djokovic – who had earlier defeated Diego Schwartzman – on Wednesday.

"Confidence is a key, for sure. Winning a Masters always helps for confidence," Medvedev told Amazon Prime Sport in his on-court interview.

"It was a little bit shaky from both of us [in the first set]. Second set, it was easier for both of us to hit some winners because we were so tired, we couldn't run any more!"

 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS 
Medvedev: 21/19
Zverev: 14/27

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS 
Medvedev: 4/2
Zverev: 3/7

BREAK POINTS WON 
Medvedev: 3/9
Zverev: 1/6

Novak Djokovic avoided defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas and third seed Dominic Thiem, who were both drawn alongside Rafael Nadal for the ATP Finals.

World number one Djokovic, who will be aiming to win the trophy for a record-equalling sixth time, will take on Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Diego Schwartzman in Group Tokyo 1970.

The Serbian heads to London on the back of just his third defeat of the season – one of which was his default at the US Open – in the quarter-finals of the Vienna Open to Lorenzo Sonego.

Zverev won the title in 2018, while Medvedev is returning after his ATP Finals debut last year and Schwartzman has reached the event for the first time.

Nadal has qualified for the year-ending competition for a record 16th straight year but faces a tricky task in Group London 2020 alongside Thiem, Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev.

Tsitsipas lost to Nadal in the group stage but beat Thiem in the final to win the competition last year, though the Austrian will hope to go one better after making his major breakthrough by going all the way at the US Open.

Like Schwartzman, Rublev is competing at the tournament for the first time.

The ATP Finals, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, is scheduled to begin on Sunday.

Daniil Medvedev won the Paris Masters title after fighting back from a set down to defeat Alexander Zverev in Sunday's final.

The Russian's last appearance in a Tour-level championship match was 13 months ago, when he beat Zverev in straight sets at the Shanghai Masters.

This was a more competitive affair, at least in the opening hour, but it was Medvedev who triumphed 5-7 6-4 6-1 to lift his eighth career title.

He is the fourth Russian to win the tournament, after Marat Safin, Nikolay Davydenko and Karen Khachanov.

Medvedev had lost five times in eight matches in the build-up to this event but has found form on the hard courts of the French capital, dropping just one set en route to the final.

Zverev, who dispatched Rafael Nadal in straight sets in the semi-finals, continued that form in the first set on Sunday as he missed his mark just five times on his first serve.

Medvedev kept pace until game 12, when he saved two break points but not the third, Zverev letting out a roar as he took a step towards a third Tour title in a row.

Each man was backing up their serve with authority, although Zverev saved four break points in the third game of the second set as Medvedev began to find more rhythm from the baseline.

The world number five got his breakthrough at the next time of asking before holding to love to level the match, as Zverev's form began to falter.

The German seemed suddenly bereft of confidence as he surrendered his opening service game to love, and a double break soon put Medvedev in control.

A double fault from the German on the second match point gifted an impressive win to Medvedev, who will feel full of confidence ahead of the ATP Finals in London.

Rafael Nadal succumbed to the in-form Alexander Zverev, who booked his place in the Paris Masters final with an impressive  6-4 7-5 last-four triumph on Saturday.

Zverev became the first German in 25 years to reach the final of the tournament in the French capital to make it 21 wins from 23 matches since the start of the US Open.

The world number seven, who reached his first slam final at Flushing Meadows, has won 12 straight contests and the manner of his latest victory against the legendary Nadal will be particularly pleasing.

Nadal was aiming to match Novak Djokovic's record of 36 Masters 1000 titles this week but struggled to make a dent on his opponent, who won his opening eight service games.

Not for nothing is the Spaniard a 20-time grand slam winner, though, and a shift in return position initially left Zverev flummoxed as the second set was tied up at 4-4.

But Zverev – who served 13 aces throughout the match – kept his composure and broke in the final game of the second set to defeat Nadal for just the second time and reach a seventh final at this level.

Awaiting in a Sunday showdown is Daniil Medvedev, a man Zverev has beaten five times in six career ATP meetings against the Russian.

Rafael Nadal insists he will never stop trying to improve his game in a stark warning to Paris Masters quarter-final opponent Pablo Carreno Busta. 

A day on from beating Feliciano Lopez for his 1,000th ATP Tour-level victory, Nadal saw off Jordan Thompson in straight sets on Thursday.

The Spaniard lost just 12 points on his serve in his first meeting with world number 61 Thompson, who hauled down his racket after failing to win a set point in the second, which Nadal subsequently won on a tie-break.

Yet despite another impressive showing in Bercy, Nadal believes he still has work to do if he is to overcome compatriot Busta, who beat Norbert Gombos 7-5 6-2.

"I want to improve everything, always," the world number two said after his 6-1 7-6 (7-3) triumph. "But that's the work of every day, no? Try to fix the things that I think I can do it better, and hold the things that I am doing well, no?

"So I think I am not doing a lot of things bad. I just didn't play in indoors for a year almost, and is part of the process of course. I need to keep going. I think these kind of matches helps. Yesterday's match, today's, tomorrow is another opportunity.

"These matches are an important test for me to keep improving, so I really believe and hope that it's going to help me to improve. I think I'm playing well. I just think I need to win more matches on this surface.

"I need to be ready to play my best against an opponent that I know is playing well and with confidence. I hope to be ready to play my game and really read well, because that's what I'm going to need."

WAWRINKA AND ZVEREV BATTLE THROUGH

Nadal is into the Paris Masters quarters for an eighth time but the 34-year-old has only reached the final on one previous occasion, losing to David Nalbandian in 2007.

Should he overcome his compatriot Busta on Friday, one of Alexander Zverev or Stan Wawrinka await in the semi-finals.

Fourth-seeded Zverev needed three hours to overcome unseeded Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (13-11) 6-7 6-4, saving set points in each of the first two sets.

Zverev wasted a set point of his own in a tie-breaker as the German was taken all the way to a decider, which he won by breaking Mannarino in the ninth game.

Chasing a third title of the year, Zverev will now face Wawrinka in the last eight after the Swiss battled from behind to beat Andrey Rublev 1-6 6-4 6-3.

Rublev broke his opponent three times to take the first set inside 32 minutes, but Wawrinka held in the second to level up a match that went on past midnight local time.

World number eight Rublev had won 11 matches in a row but he struggled to cope with Wawrinka in the third set, losing serve in the first and ninth games to bring his participation to an end.

Rafael Nadal landed the 1,000th singles win of his career as he survived an early scare at the Paris Masters.

Nadal's fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez went close to a major upset as the veteran pushed him all the way, but Nadal came through 4-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-4.

After sweeping to French Open glory last month without dropping a set, Wednesday's match marked Nadal's return to action and it took him two hours and 30 minutes to get the job done.

He sits fourth on the list of players with the most wins in the Open Era, behind Jimmy Connors, Roger Federer and Ivan Lendl.

There were also victories for Alexander Zverev, Diego Schwartzman, Milos Raonic and Alex de Minaur. while Daniil Medvedev went through after opponent Kevin Anderson retired due to injury during a first-set tie-break.

Away from clay, Nadal looks vulnerable in Paris

Nadal was imperious at Roland Garros, roaring through the draw on the way to his 13th French Open title.

Across town, at the Bercy Arena, it has been a different story throughout Nadal's career.

The indoor hard-court event is one he has never won and has often skipped, with this just his eighth appearances in the main draw, and this was almost a brief visit as Lopez made a storming start.

Lopez managed what nobody could at Roland Garros by swiping that first set after a break of serve in the opening game of the match, but 20-time grand slam winner Nadal stepped up his game to reach the last-16 stage and chalk up a landmark win.

The 39-year-old Lopez saved five break points in the second set to earn a tie-break, only for Nadal to edge it and then break serve for the first time at the outset of the decider.

With his hard-fought success, Nadal, 34, extended his head-to-head winning record to 10-4 against Lopez, with their rivalry having begun on an indoor carpet court in Basel back in 2003.

Likely challengers come through

German fourth seed Zverev swept to a 6-2 6-2 win against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, while Schwartzman swatted away Richard Gasquet, landing a 7-5 6-3 win over the Frenchman.

There was more disappointment for French hopes as Pierre-Hugues Herbert lost 6-4 6-4 to Canadian Raonic, and Russian Medvedev was embroiled in a battle with Anderson when the South African pulled out of the contest.

Sonego's early exit

Lorenzo Sonego arrived in Paris off the back of a successful week in Vienna, where he knocked out Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals and went on to finish runner-up to Andrey Rublev.

This week will linger less in the memory for the Italian, who went down 6-3 7-5 to De Minaur.

Alexander Zverev sealed his second ATP title in the space of a week as the German overcame Diego Schwartzman in the Cologne Championships final.

World number seven Zverev beat Felix Auger-Aliassime to claim the Cologne Indoors title on October 18 and continued his fine form in the city with a 6-2 6-1 triumph on Sunday.

Schwartzman had denied Auger-Aliassime the chance to avenge his previous defeat but was never a match for in-form Zverev, who hit nine aces – to his opponent's zero – and saved the only break point he faced.

After an even start, Zverev nosed himself ahead with a break of Schwartzman's serve in the fifth game of the opener, with another concession from the Argentine following.

Zverev swiftly wrapped things up with his first set point, though Schwartzman rallied to gain a break point in the opening game of the final set.

It was an opportunity the world number nine failed to grasp, however, and Zverev made him pay with some clinical shots, rounding off the victory – and his second title of 2020 – with a supreme forehand down the line.

Alexander Zverev defeated Jannik Sinner in straight sets in Saturday's Cologne Championships semi-final to remain on course for a second ATP title in the space of a week.

The 23-year-old lost to Sinner at the last-16 stage of the French Open earlier this month but was too strong for the wildcard entrant in this latest match, prevailing 7-6 (7-3) 6-3.

Zverev, who carried a hip injury into the contest, lost serve in the fourth game but responded well and converted his first match point with a blistering serve.

He held throughout the second set and will now face Diego Schwartzman, who beat last week's beaten Cologne Indoors finalist Felix Auger-Aliassime in the other semi.

Second seed Schwartzman came out on top 6-4 5-7 6-4 in two hours and 31 minutes to reach his third final of 2020, converting four of five break points.

Ugo Humbert saved four match points against Dan Evans on the way to reaching the European Open final in Antwerp, meanwhile, battling to a 4-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 victory.

The opportunities for Evans all came the Briton's way in a second-set tie-break, with Humbert coming back from 6-3 behind and then 7-6 in the breaker to keep his hopes alive.

He found a way to level the match before edging the decider, with the 22-year-old French left-hander sealing his place in a second final of 2020 after winning in Auckland back in January.

It took him three hours and 14 minutes to complete the task, but at least Humbert had the evening off as Alex de Minaur and Grigor Dimitrov battled it out to join him in the final.

And it was eighth-seeded Australian De Minaur who claimed the victory in a tight match that lasted two hours and 48 minutes.

De Minaur held his nerve to triumph 7-6 (7-4) 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 to reach his first tour-level final in 12 months, losing to Roger Federer on the previous occasion at the Swiss Indoors Basel.

Diego Schwartzman took a big step towards qualifying for the ATP Finals with a "crazy" comeback win over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the Cologne Championships quarter-finals. 

The Argentinian was staring down the barrel of defeat when he lost the opening set and trailed 5-2 in the second, with Davidovich Fokina unable to convert a match point. 

After his opponent failed to capitalise, Schwartzman recovered to win 2-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 to set up a semi-final with either Felix Auger-Aliassime or Yoshihito Nishioka. 

Schwartzman is aiming to secure one of the final two spots for the ATP Finals and occupies the final qualifying berth. 

"Tennis sometimes is crazy," said Schwartzman after the match. "Maybe today I got lucky to be here answering questions.  

"But that is why I am here as well with this ranking, because I am always trying to find a way to win the matches. Today was not the exception to the rule." 

Home favourite and top seed Alexander Zverev came through in three sets, beating Adrian Mannarino 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4. He meets Jannik Sinner, who recovered from losing eight straight games to defeat Gilles Simon 6-3 0-6 6-4, in the other last-four match. 

At the European Open, Dan Evans saved match point en route to ousting third seed Karen Khachanov 3-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 and will go up against Ugo Humbert in the semi-finals after the Frenchman beat Lloyd Harris in straight sets. 

Alex de Minaur hammered Marcos Giron 6-3 6-0 in under an hour and faces Grigor Dimitrov next, with the Bulgarian handed a walkover after Milos Raonic withdrew before the match due to an abdominal strain. 

Alexander Zverev started his quest to win back-to-back ATP tournaments in Cologne with a battling victory over John Millman.

Zverev was crowned Cologne Indoors champion last weekend and the US Open runner-up moved into the quarter-finals of the Cologne Championships on Wednesday.

The top seed beat Australian Millman 6-0 3-6 6-3, despite double-faulting 10 times, and has now won 11 of his last 12 matches on hard courts.

Zverev saved six of the seven break points Millman earned and won 79 per cent of points behind his first serve, setting up a last-eight meeting with eighth seed Adrian Mannarino.

Mannarino was a 6-3 6-3 winner against Miomir Kecmanovic, while Alejandro Davidovich Fokina advanced to the quarter-finals following a 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 victory over Steve Johnson.

Felix Auger-Aliassime, beaten by Zverev in the final on Sunday, rallied past qualifier Egor Gerasimov 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-4).

Pablo Carreno Busta slumped to a surprise defeat at the European Open in Antwerp, Ugo Humbert beating the second seed 5-7 6-3 6-4.

Frenchman Humbert was joined in the quarter-finals by Grigor Dimitrov, Alex De Minaur and Dan Evans, while Milos Raonic and Taylor Fritz progressed to the round of 16.

Jannik Sinner raced past lucky loser James Duckworth in the first round of the Cologne Championships, where John Millman booked a meeting with top seed Alexander Zverev. 

French Open quarter-finalist Sinner took just 61 minutes to seal a 6-1 6-2 victory against Duckworth, who replaced Hubert Hurkacz after the Pole withdrew due to food poisoning. 

The 19-year-old Italian reached a career high 46 in the rankings following his exploits at Roland Garros and cruised past Duckworth after fending off two break points in a 12-minute game at 2-2 in the second set. 

Sinner will go up against qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert in round two after the Frenchman defeated Tennys Sandgren 6-3 3-6 6-3 at the ATP event on Tuesday. 

Zverev defeated Felix Auger-Aliassime in the final of last week's tournament in Cologne and will begin his bid for a second straight title against Millman after the Australian overcame Fernando Verdasco 6-4 6-2. 

At the European Open in Antwerp, Alex De Minaur came from a set down to defeat veteran Richard Gasquet 3-6 7-6 (7-5) 6-3. 

When serving for the set in the second set, Gasquet produced an unforced error following a reactive backhand from De Minaur. He then double faulted at 5-5 in the tie-break and the Australian eighth seed dished out the ultimate punishment. 

Federico Coria stepped in after Kei Nishikori withdrew due to a right shoulder injury and the Argentinian was comfortably beaten 6-2 6-3 by Pablo Andujar. 

Alexander Zverev won his first title of the year with a comprehensive victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Cologne Indoors.

Zverev, beaten by Dominic Thiem in his first grand slam final at the US Open last month, was knocked out of the French Open in disappointing fashion in the fourth round by Jannik Sinner.

The world number seven has responded impressively on home soil this week, dropping just one set en route to Sunday's final.

He followed up with an impressive performance against Auger-Aliassime, winning 6-3 6-3 in just under 80 minutes.

Auger-Aliassime, who is 0-3 against Zverev, has now lost each of his six Tour finals without winning a set.

Zverev, who won 80 per cent of points behind his first serve, assumed control after breaking the Canadian in the opening game and again to lead 5-2.

He handed a break back with consecutive double-faults but secured the first set in the next game and moved 4-2 up in the second to break Auger-Aliassime's resistance.

A heavy forehand from his 20-year-old opponent handed Zverev victory on his first match point, as he secured a 12th Tour title.

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