Alexander Zverev defeated Novak Djokovic in the title-decider of the ATP World Tour Finals under the stewardship of a new coach, the former Andy Murray coach Ivan Lendl and he played his own part in helping him win his first big tennis title.
The German, who had earlier played against Djokovic in the group stage of the ATP Finals and lost comfortably in straight sets, overturned the world number one’s favourites tag to clinch a straight-set victory in the final.
And he creditted Lendl for his help right throughout the tournament, not the least before the final where he spoke about the different things he could tweak slightly to get the better of Djokovic.
In a post-match press conference, Zverev said:
“He obviously analyzed the match that I played with him a few days ago, told me a few things I had to do different. I was more aggressive today. I tried to take the ball earlier. Those kind of things.”
“Obviously, Ivan, the experience he has on and off the court, is amazing. That helped me, as well, to kind of play the two matches that I played back to back now.”
Interestingly, it wasn’t just the final win that Lendl had had a hand in. He also spoke with Zverev after his semi-final win over the Swiss legend Roger Federer, after the German had been booed by a section of the crowd. This had happened after Zverev stopped a point when a ball-boy dropped the ball during a rally.
Zverev explained it was quite emotional when that happened but Lendl helped things put in perspective. The former eight-time Grand Slam winner gave him the crowd’s perspective and the fact it wasn’t a personal grudge against Zverev but disappointment at the loss of his their favourite player.
The German said, Lendl told him to enjoy himself rather than take things personally.
“As tennis players, we take it personally, this kind of stuff. [Lendl] just said, ‘Look, it’s nothing personal. They’re all Roger fans; he deserves to have the most fans in the world.’ He just told me, ‘Go out here today and enjoy.'”