By Ros Satar, at the Nitto ATP Finals

  • Roger Federer [2] v Alexander Zverev [3]
  • H2H: Federer leads 3-2
LONDON, UK – Roger Federer faces Alexander Zverev in the first semi-final of the Nitto ATP Finals but who will be in Sunday’s final?

 

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Roger Federer [2] v Alexander Zverev [3] | H2H: Federer leads 3-2

It has been a strange tournament for both men. Roger Federer was stunned in his opener, but since then he has improved his standard of play and was at his most animated in the final round-rubber.

Alexander Zverev in the second round-robin match at the ATP World Tour Finals 2018, London

Alexander Zverev in the second round-robin match at the ATP World Tour Finals 2018, London | (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)

Alexander Zverev was not impressive at the start of his first round, but managed to crape a win over Marin Cilic, before losing form rapidly towards the end of his second match against Novak Djokovic and could have been viewed as there for the taking. However, he out-served John Isner in his final round-rubber and seems to be rounding out into good form coming into the semi-finals.

With the first set, he ended Cilic’s hopes of qualifying, and the shackles came off, and Zverev was able to strike free – and it showed, and it should set up an intriguing semi-final. There is no doubt Federer has improved match on match, while you could argue that this was by far Zverev’s strongest performance of the week.

Roger Federer in the third round-robin at the ATP World Tour Finals 2018, London

(Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)

Federer still does not look quite as convincing, but now we pit experience up against ambition. Under the guidance of Ivan Lendl this week, Zverev has the chance to lay the ground work for some solid off-season work, after a much-needed break.

The last time the pair met at a tour level was here last year. This time there definitely seems like a bit of a shift in position – Federer is not quite as invincible as he once was, and while Zverev has his moments of inconsistency, he is still probably the most likely of the young generation to make his mark – he is already not backwards in coming forwards.

READ MORE | Tennis | ATP World Tour Finals 2018 | Zverev responds to criticism of his schedule, locks in semi-final spot

To combat the kind of serving and playing styles we saw from Zverev in the final round-robin, Federer will need to use all his balletic skills and variety to try and pull Zverev around the court. Zverev admitted his plan had been to slow his serve down against Isner and go more for precision. Both players will play from the baseline and are adept at the net – but you have to think that if they go to long rallies from the back of the court, Zverev is more likely to wear the Swiss down.

However, with the prospect of Title No. 100 beckoning – you would maybe give Federer just the edge, but he will have to work for it.

Prediction: Federer in three sets.

 

 

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