Novak Djokovic vs. Alexander Zverev Odds, Pick, Prediction: Underdog Can Hang in ATP World Tour Semifinal
Credit: Giampiero Sposito, Getty. Alex Zverev hits a forehand against Hubert Hurkacz.
Novak Djokovic vs. Alexander Zverev
|Time||Saturday, 3 p.m. ET|
|Head-to-Head Record: 7-3 Medvedev|
|Odds via PointsBet. For tips on how to watch tennis, click here.
The second semifinal of the day pits the world No. 1 Djokovic against No. 3 Zverev.
While Djokovic raced through the group stage with wins over Casper Ruud, Cameron Norrie and Andrey Rublev, Zverev fell to Daniil Medvedev, allowing for the German to drop into the second spot of his group and create a meeting with the Serbian.
Each pair is very familiar with one another, and Zverev has played Djokovic more than all but two other players on tour.
Here are the keys for each player and how I see the contest unfolding.
How Djokovic Wins
If there’s a matchup on tour that should provide a stylistic problem for Djokovic, it would be this one. The German has the ability to sit behind the baseline and deal with the relentless pressure that Djokovic can apply while counter-attacking and punishing him when need be.
As we saw at the US Open, Zverev is one of the few players that has a serve that can confuse and speed by Djokovic when he’s hitting them well. Thus far in Turin, we’ve been given the indication that Zverev is doing that, so the return of Djokovic is going to be crucial.
Fortunately, he’s the best returner to ever play the game, so there will be an added bit of importance on Zverev’s first serve. If he gets tight at any point and allows his first serve percentage to dip drastically, as he’s done in the past against Djokovic in big matches, it could be extremely hard to hold games.
Djokovic himself has been serving well throughout the tournament, compiling 29 aces without hitting a single double fault, so he should be comfortable on serve. It’s some of the best serving we’ve ever seen from Djokovic, and it allows him to get free points and comfortable first balls to hit.
Consistent hitting and a maintained level of service should get the job done.
How Zverev Wins
As noted above, Zverev has a serve that can cause issues for Djokovic when he’s firing, and boy is he firing. Zverev has notched 39 aces through his first three matches (only playing six sets) while only hitting three double faults.
For someone that has the fourth-highest double fault rate on tour, that’s an encouraging sign. Problems arise for Zverev when he starts to unravel and donate breaks to his opponent, but he’s capable of avoiding that and holding a high mental level against Djokovic.
He’s beaten the 20-time slam champion in these circumstances before, and he’s not the type of player that will be overly intimidated by the circumstances. Zverev hasn’t shown that he’s ready to fight through nerves at slams just yet, but in every other location he’s been okay.
That includes the Tokyo Olympics, where Zverev beat Djokovic in monumental fashion. On his day, Zverev is capable of pushing any player on earth, so it becomes a question of how high his level will be on the day and how well he can maintain it under pressure.
When Zverev and Djokovic take the court, history tells us that fireworks will follow. I think that could be the case once again in Turin.
The duo haven’t played a straight-sets match since Djokovic beat Zverev at the ATP Finals last year, a period spanning four matches. Zverev has competed well over the last few events despite one awful performance against Medvedev in Paris, but I think he’ll rise to the occasion and push Djokovic.
Serving as well as he is, Zverev can get by anyone, and though the value on a side would be with him, I prefer the over 22.5 games as a better option.
Pick: Over 22.5 games