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Zverev beats Schwartzman in three to keep chances alive

Alexander Zverev kept his Nitto ATP Tour Finals chances alive after seeing off a robust challenge from Diego Schwartzman, the German winning 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

Tennis – ATP Finals – The O2, London, Britain – November 18, 2020 Germany’s Alexander Zverev in action during his group stage match against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman

ATP Finals, Group Tokyo 1970

RESULT: Zverev (5) d. Schwartzman (8) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3

  • Key info: Zverev’s first serve was key to victory, finding 73% of first serves and throwing in just three double faults
  • You will also learn: Zverev next faces Novak Djokovic on Friday and it’s a game he could need to win in order to progress
  • Why you should read this story: both players came into the match with a loss apiece, so the loser was almost certainly going home.

Having lost his opening match to Daniil Medvedev, victory for Zverev means he keeps his hopes of a semi-final berth alive but for Schwartzman, his tournament is all but over.

“It was much better than on Monday,” said Zverev afterward. “Diego is a very difficult player and deserves to be here, that’s why there is no easy match. But I’m happy to get the win, happy to give myself a chance to go to the semi finals and I’m excited for Friday.

“Friday is going to be the most difficult match up that you can have here against Novak. We have played twice here already so I’m looking forward to it. First I had to try to beat Diego, that was my main focus today and I said from the beginning of the week, with every match I’m going to improve. After the small injury I had in Paris I needed to recover a little bit, needed to get back into a rhythm but hopefully I can play even better on Friday.”

On paper, the match-up looked like a good one for Zverev, with the German having won both previous indoors encounters in straight sets, most recently in Cologne for the loss of just three games.

This time it was the diminutive Argentine who broke first for a 2-1 advantage, having saved one of his own. But he couldn’t stave off another break point in the next, Zverev hitting straight back to level matters before pressing on the accelerator and breaking again to take control of the set.

With Zverev’s penchant for the double fault, the receiver will always feel in the game if they can put the German under pressure in the important moments. Yet despite offering up two break back points, Zverev managed to dig himself out to take the opener 6-3.

Zverev wobbles in the second but comes through decider

Schwartzman again had to dig deep to stave off a couple of break points in the opening game of the second. But he couldn’t repeat the feat as the fifth seed converted at the second time of asking. Just as Zverev seemed poised to cruise through the second, he suddenly lost focus with a flurry of unforced errors conceding the break back.

Now it was Schwartzman who was the aggressor, piling pressure on his opponent’s service game to hit back and level the match, grabbing his first indoor set against his higher ranked opponent.

“I’m happy because I almost did a good comeback,” reflected the Argentine. “The match was going all his way quickly in the first set and second set. Then I find a way to win the second set and fighting the third.

“Second set today I improve a lot. When I was down 3-1 I improve a lot. I did many winners. I start to play my best, I think, almost my best, or trying to find a way to play my best.”

With Zverev appearing increasingly tetchy and Schwartzman brimming with confidence, one assumed the Argentine would be the favourite in the decider. Yet the German quickly put his woes behind him, breaking in the fifth game en route to wrapping up the match with a further break of serve.

Here are the updated standings (at time of writing): 

Player | Record | Sets | Games 

Djokovic| 1-0 | 2-0 | 12-5

Zverev| 1-1 | 2-3 | 24-21

Medvedev| 1-0 | 2-2 | 23-24

Schwartzman| 0-2 | 1-4 | 17-28


Nitto ATP Finals competition format

  • Everyone plays every other player in their group once.
  • The top player in Group Tokyo 1970 will play the runner-up from Group London 2020 in the semi-final, and vice versa.
  • The standings in the table are decided first by greatest number of wins.
  • Then it takes into account the greatest number of matches played (a 2-1 win-loss record beats a 2-0 win-loss record).
  • After that it comes down to head-to-head results if two players are tied.
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