Defending champion Alexander Zverev defeated current world number one Rafael Nadal at the O2 Arena on Monday, in the Nitto ATP Finals. The German beat the Spaniard in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4. Zverev now looks determined to defend his title this year.
The 22-year old German was dominant right from the beginning of the match. Seldom did he waste any serve. Nadal had to work harder than usual, but Zverev was in complete control of the match. It seemed like he was playing with the Spaniard's senses. In the end, the Spaniard appeared frustrated and clueless.
There were some moments of brilliance from the World Number One as he executed some serves extremely well. However, he lacked consistency and Zverev never failed to create pressure on the 19-time Grand Slam winner.
Nadal will be frustrated because Zverev outplayed him. He hit 3 forehand winners but committed 13 errors from that wing alone. Such a statistic is unacceptable for a player of Nadal's status.
The Spaniard was also a bit slow on the court. This was Nadal's first match since he withdrew from the semi-final of the Rolex Paris Masters because of an abdominal tear. As ATP Tour's official website reports, Zverev took advantage of the quick indoor conditions at the O2 Arena. He relied on an attacking gameplan to outplay Nadal.
Post-match, Zverev was asked about his thoughts regarding his win against the World Number One. He said, "This means so much, playing here again after winning my biggest title so far in my career here last year. This means everything to me. I was looking forward to this match, and thanks a lot for all the support, everybody who came out. The atmosphere is the reason why everybody is trying, the goal of the beginning of the season is to make London. Because playing here, playing in front of you all, playing in The O2 is something that we don't have during the year, and this is so special."
If Zverev successfully defends his title at the O2, he will become the first player since Novak Djokovic to win back-to-back Nitto ATP Finals titles. Djokovic won it five times. He won the title four times consecutively between 2012 and 2015. Nadal's early defeat also means that Djokovic has a high chance of claiming the year-end number one ranking.