Zverev Upsets Djokovic, Sets Khachanov Final In Tokyo
Zverev battled back from a set and a break down against the World No. 1, who seemed to be cruising to victory, to reach the final in Tokyo and guarantee himself at least a silver medal on his Olympics debut.
“It's an amazing feeling, knowing that you're going to bring the medal back to your house, back home to Germany," Zverev told ITFtennis.com. "It's incredible beating the best player in the world undoubtedly right now, and in this season.
“It seemed it was impossible to beat him at this event, so I’m very happy right now. But there's still one match to go.
“I know that he was chasing history, chasing the golden slam and was chasing the Olympics, but in these kind of moments me and Novak are very close. Of course I'm happy that I've won, but at the end of the day I know how Novak feels. I told him that he's the greatest of all time, and he will be.”
The fourth seed returned well throughout. He won 59 per cent (16/27) of points on Djokovic’s second serve as he stepped inside the baseline to dictate with his powerful groundstrokes. The 24-year-old raised his level in the crucial moments in the third set, fending off four break points to advance in two hours and five minutes. It is the first time Zverev has beaten Djokovic since 2018, when the German overcame the 34-year-old in the Nitto ATP Finals championship match.
Djokovic was aiming to become the first man to win all four majors and a gold medal in a season, having captured the first three Grand Slams of the year. WTA legend Stefanie Graf completed this achievement in 1988.
"Tough day, a really tough day," Djokovic said according to Olympics.com. "I feel so terrible right now. I was leading a set then a break and he managed to turn the match around, he served huge, was attacking, and I was not getting any free points on my first serves.
“To play someone of his quality, of his level, it's just too tough to win a match (like that).”
Zverev, who won the Mutua Madrid Open title (d. Berrettini) in May, will face the ROC’s Karen Khachanov in the final after the 25-year-old produced a dominant display to move past Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-3.
The 12th seed, who is making his Olympic debut this week, was strong on serve throughout, hitting 10 aces and winning 92 per cent (24/26) of his first-service points to advance in 80 minutes.
“It was so important to win today because at least you know for sure that you’re guaranteed a medal, which is one of the dreams come true,” Khachanov told ITFtennis.com. “But obviously, you need to find motivation and excitement, and I will try to be prepared for the final and fight for the gold.”
The 25-year-old has enjoyed runs to the semi-finals at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon and the Great Ocean Road Open this year. Khachanov also equalled his best Grand Slam result at Wimbledon earlier this month as he advanced to the quarter-finals (l. to Shapovalov).
Carreno Busta upset World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev in the last eight on Thursday, but could not match those performance levels against Medvedev’s countryman Khachanov on Friday.The sixth seed, who won his first ATP 500 trophy and sixth tour-level title earlier in July at the Hamburg European Open, had dropped just one set en route to the last four. The Spaniard will face Djokovic in the bronze medal match on Saturday.