Sunday, November 18, 2018

Zverev stuns Djokovic for title; Bryan, 40, sets record

   Even though he's only 21, Alexander Zverev has long been touted as a future Grand Slam champion.
   The 6-foot-6 (1.98-meter) German reached his first major quarterfinal this year and could go further in 2019, perhaps all the way.
   One day after beating second-seeded Roger Federer in straight sets, the third-seeded Zverev shocked top seed and five-time champion Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 today to win the Nitto ATP Finals in London.
   Zverev, who began working with International Tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl in August in an effort to improve his Grand Slam results, became the youngest ATP Finals champion since Djokovic 10 years ago at 21.
   Zverev also became the first player to defeat Djokovic and Federer in the tournament, and the first to beat the top two seeds in the semifinals and final of the event since Andre Agassi in 1990.
   "This is the biggest title of my career so far," Zverev, who had lost to Djokovic 6-4, 6-1 on Wednesday in a round-robin match, told reporters. "This trophy means a lot, everything, to all the players. I mean, you only have so many chances of winning it. You play against the best players only. How I played today, how I won it, for me it's just amazing."
   Djokovic, who had won 35 of his previous 37 matches, was trying to tie Federer's record of six ATP Finals titles.
   "(Zverev) had big serves. I wasn't returning well," said Djokovic, who returned to No. 1 this month after undergoing right elbow surgery in February. "I wasn't making him move too much. I was making way too many unforced errors.
   "From 4-4 in the first set, my game fell apart. But if we put things in perspective, it has been an amazing year and a great comeback."
   Zverev pocketed $2,509,000, and Djokovic collected $1,432,000.
   ATP Finals doubles -- Since pairing for the first time in June, Mike Bryan and Jack Sock have won three titles.
   And we're not talking Umag, Winston-Salem and Chengdu.
   We're talking Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and the Nitto ATP Finals.
   Bryan (Stanford, 2017-18) and Sock of the United States completed a dream half-season with a 5-7, 6-1 [13-11] victory over Frenchmen Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut in the title match of the ATP Finals.
   Bryan and Sock, seeded fifth, saved a championship point at 10-11 in the match tiebreaker and converted their sixth championship point when Herbert double-faulted. Herbert and Mahut, the eighth seeds and this year's French Open champions, had routed Bryan and Sock 6-2, 6-2 in 53 minutes on Friday in round-robin play.
   Bryan, 40, became the oldest champion in the history of the ATP Finals and the sixth player to win the title with at least two partners. It was the fifth crown in the tournament for Bryan, who won the others with twin Bob Bryan, and first for Sock, the singles champion in the $100,000 Tiburon (Calif.) Challenger in 2012 and the doubles runner-up in the $100,000 Sacramento Challenger in 2011 with countryman Nicholas Monroe.
   Bob, who's recovering from August hip surgery, and Mike plan to reunite next year. They have won a record 16 Grand Slam men's doubles titles together but none since the 2014 U.S. Open.
   "I've had a magical partnership with Jack, but his No. 1 focus has always been singles," Mike said in a New York Times story published Tuesday. "He knows he was just filling in until Bob comes back."
   Mike Bryan and Sock became the first team to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in the same season since Jonas Bjorkman of Sweden and Todd Woodbridge of Australia in 2003.
   Herbert and Mahut were bidding to become the first French team to win the ATP Finals since Michael Llodra and Fabrice Santoro in 2005.
   Bryan and Sock shared $479,000; Herbert and Mahut split $279,00.
   ATP Challenger Tour -- Second-seeded Bradley Klahn, a 28-year-old Stanford graduate, beat wild card Roy Smith, a sophomore at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4) in a matchup of American left-handers to win the $150,000 Oracle Challenger Series -- Houston.
   The match was moved indoors because of rain.
   Klahn won his seventh Challenger singles title, his second this year and the biggest of his career. He rose 20 places to No. 77, 14 spots below his career high in 2014. Klahn underwent his second operation for a herniated disc in his back in 2015.

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