ATP Finals: Zverev wins biggest title, stunning Djokovic

Here’s a wrap-up of the 2018 season for the eight ATP Finals singles players.

Alexander Zverev
From August all the way through November, Zverev played well at times, but mostly mediocre. But last week in London, Zverev stood up tall, stunning Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 to win the title. 

He was so locked in, so good, smashing his serves, his forehand and backhand and also being patient. The 21-year-old won Munich, the ATP 1000 Madrid, Washington and now, London. “I’m unbelievably happy, obviously it’s the biggest title that I’ve ever won,” said Zverev. And how. 

This year, he beat eight Top 10ers. On Saturday and Sunday, he overcame Roger Federer and Djokovic. That is almost impossible to do. The No. 4 Zverev has yet to go very deep in the Slams, but in 2019, he will be very confident and stoical.

Novak Djokovic
The 14-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic has had a terrific second half of the year, winning Wimbledon, Cincy, the US Open, and Shanghai. On Sunday, he had only lost twice since June, to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Toronto, and Karen Khachanovin in Paris. It looked like he was almost invincible. 
But in the final, he played OK, didn’t serve well during the second set, and he didn’t return with his usual tour-topping skill. However, you cannot win every week; it is going to happen, once in a while. Djokovic will stay as the No. 1 at the start of 2019, but the most important thing for him is to keep on churning.

Roger Federer
The 37-year-old Federer had two good wins against Dominic Thiem and Kevin Anderson, and two losses against Nishikori and then in the semis to Zverev. Not good enough for him? Probably not, because he wants to win at the most important events, and the No. 3 really, really wanted to grab it in the ATP Finals. He would have had 100 titles, in front of everyone, and he would have been so darn happy. But, he did not and for the next two months or so, he will be stuck at 99 wins. He must be think: “Ugh.”    

Kevin Anderson 
The South African/American looked terrific, winning two matches against  Nishikori and Thiem to start, but then the tide turned, and he lost easily to Federer and Djokovic. Yes, he had a fine year, winning two small events and he reached the final at Wimbledon. Can Anderson win a major in 2019? Hard to say. He has improved his backhand and speed, but the tall man is still a little bit slow. However, if he can return better, then maybe he can raise the Slam trophy in 2019. Maybe.

Marin Cilic 
There are days when you think that he is playing so clean, so smart, and so intense. But there are also days when inside his head, that he gets frustrated and then he gets mentally down. Yes, he had a very decent year, but for Cilic, unless he gets to No. 1, he is very disappointed. He has won one major title, the 2014 US Open, and he has also reached the final at 2017 Wimbledon, and this year,  at the Australian Open. There is no doubt that he will be a force again in 2019. But, to get his second Slam, he has to be steadier and focused at the net.

Kei Nishikori
After the Japanese stunned Federer, it looked like he was ready to take down all of them. But he did not, and he flipped out, losing so easily against Anderson and Thiem. Later, he said he had no idea why. That is so true. However, he did play pretty well most of the season, and he wasn’t that hurt at all, which is very good, considering that he had been injured for so many years. 
Nishikori is very fast, he leaps up into the sky a lot, and he puts the ball away.  
Can he actually win a Grand Slam someday? That is questionable because in the second week, he eventually gets tired and then starts coughing up the unforced errors. Hopefully, in 2019, he will continue to be healthy. If he does, Nishikori will go deep at some big events.
   
Dominic Thiem 
The Austrian has been creative this year. He mixes it up, he will spin it, chop it, and flatten it out. On clay, he was way up there, reaching the final at Roland Garros. But, on the hard courts, while he has improved during 2018, it has taken the 25-year-old a pretty long time to be a force. He is trying, though, he is stuck on the baseline. Maybe, he can push himself forward. He played a few good matches last week. He wasn’t able to reach the semis, but maybe next year in London at the O2, he can grab and actually win it.
  
John Isner 
The American was pretty thrilled that he made it into the ATP Finals, slipping in when Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro had to withdraw because of another late-year injury. He was excited and he was hopeful. He tried but lost all three of his matches. As he said before it started, there are some amazing players here. So, Isner had a small chance. Unfortunately, he couldn’t raise his game. Without a doubt, he did improve his backhand, and at net game, bending low. Maybe in 2019, Isner can crack the top 5. That would be even more special. 

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