Alexander Zverev ends Roger Federer's hopes of a 100th career title at the ATP Finals
Zverev becomes first German since Boris Becker in 1996 to reach the championship match
By Raz Mirza at London's O2 Arena
Last Updated: 17/11/18 7:49pm
Alexander Zverev ended Roger Federer's season and his hopes of a 100th career title and seventh in London as he reached the final of the season-ending ATP Finals in a dramatic contest at the O2 Arena on Saturday.
In a clash between the master against the apprentice, it was the young German who won a superb contest 7-5 7-6 (7-5) to reach Sunday's final where he will play either world No 1 Novak Djokovic or Kevin Anderson.
Zverev, who is the youngest player at 21 to reach the semi-finals since 2009 and the first from Germany since Rainer Schuettler in 2003, was not allowing Swiss icon Federer, playing in his 15th semi-final in 16 appearances, an inch during the first set which was living up to its billing.
Zverev, playing in the last four at the ATP Finals for the first time, was showing no signs of nerves as he happily traded huge groundstrokes and stunned the 20-time Grand Slam champion with a break to love in the 12th game to take the opener in 40 minutes.
The 37-year-old Federer came into the contest with a 3-2 career record over Zverev, with the most recent meeting between the oldest and youngest player in the tournament a three-set victory for the Swiss at last year's ATP Finals during the round-robin stage.
His run came to an end at the semi-final stage to Belgium's David Goffin, but Federer was determined for history not to repeat itself and he wrestled the momentum away from the 6ft 6in German to break for a 2-1 lead in the second set.
But Zverev responded to immediately restore parity in stunning fashion in a topsy-turvy affair, with the sold-out O2 crowd lapping up proceedings, while the set headed into a tie-break.
The match ended on an unsavoury note, though, when a ball boy dropped a ball during a rally during the breaker.
Zverev rightly asked for a let but the Federer fans in the crowd were unhappy that the point was replayed.
The decisive moment came when a routine missed volley by Federer handed Zverev two match points. He saved the first of them, but he got the job done on serve with a fine volley.
Shots of the match
"He's made it, oh yes!" Sky Sports commentator Barry Millns was left in awe at Zverev's pace and precision on the run.
This was the point of the match with Zverev displaying resolute defence at the net to deny Federer a way past him.
Zverev "sorry" for ball boy incident
Sections jeered the 21-year-old as Sky Sports' Annabel Croft interviewed him on court, with Croft at one point admonishing the crowd for their reaction.
A clearly upset Zverev said: "Firstly I want to apologise for the situation in the tie-break but the ball boy dropped the ball, it's in the rules that we have to replay the point.
"I apologised to Roger at the net, he told me 'it's okay, it's in the rules'.
"I want to apologise to the crowd, Roger has a lot of fans here and for what he's achieved he should have. I'm very sorry that this happened I didn't mean to upset anybody - that's all I can say, sorry."
Zverev was the better player in the two sets. Federer managed to find a way to keep it close. This is probably one of the biggest win of his career. To be in the final here at the age of 21 is such an accomplishment.
Greg Rusedski on Alexander Zverev
I'm not sure that is in the rules. It's a natural reaction. You see a ball come out and the ball kid chases after it. Umpire Carlos Bernardes could have said 'well, it's the umpires responsibility to call the let'. Of course he was looking the other way, so he didn't see it. It was unfortunate because Federer had put the ball back in play.
Peter Fleming on ball boy incident
Zverev will meet the winner of the second semi-final between world No 1 and five-time champion Novak Djokovic and South Africa's Kevin Anderson - exclusively live on Sky Sports Arena.
Federer vs A. Zverev: Match Stats
|Federer||Match Stats||A. Zverev|
|78%||1st serve win percentage||88%|
|61%||2nd serve win percentage||64%|
|1/3||Break points won||2/2|
|17/22||Net points won||16/24|
|59||Total points won||70|
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