Zverev beats Isner to reach final four at ATP Finals

Published by Reuters / Tennismash

Zverev reacts against Isner at The O2 Arena in London; Getty Images
Alexander Zverev books an ATP Finals showdown with Roger Federer by beating American John Isner in the group stage.

Alexander Zverev took another step forward towards the summit of men’s tennis by beating John Isner to reach the last four at the ATP Finals in London.

His 7-6(5) 6-3 victory over the American meant the 21-year-old became the first German since Rainer Schuettler in 2003 to reach the semifinals of the prestigious year-ending tournament, and the youngest since Juan Martin del Potro in 2009.

Zverev’s second group victory earned him the runner-up spot behind Novak Djokovic, who had already qualified before he later beat Marin Cilic 7-6(7) 6-2.

He will now aim his range of baseline weapons at six-times champion Roger Federer on Saturday on one of the sport’s biggest stages.

“It’s obviously great getting to the semifinals. But the tournament isn’t over,” said Zverev.

“I am in the semifinals. There’s only good opponents left. There’s only the best in the world. I’m playing Roger tomorrow, which is going to be a very difficult but hopefully very nice match.

“We’ll see how far I can go.”

The other semifinal will be between five-times champion Djokovic, who beat Zverev comfortably this week, and South African debutant Kevin Anderson.

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While not a Grand Slam tournament – of which Zverev is yet to go beyond the quarterfinals stage – the ATP Finals are regarded in some quarters as a fifth major.

And Zverev looked every bit a real contender for the game’s biggest prizes as he fired down 140mph serves and thrilled the packed crowd with spectacular groundstrokes, especially from his lethal backhand.

One Hollywood effort early in the second set, struck for a clean winner from almost in the front row seats, revealed the showman in Zverev as he conducted the rapturous applause.

There have been questions about his mental toughness, including last year in London when a loss to Jack Sock cost him a semifinal berth.

But with Andy Murray’s former coach Ivan Lendl and strength conditioner Jez Green now in his team Zverev appears to have developed a tougher streak.

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