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10sBalls Preview For The Federer vs. Zverev Match At ATP • Nitto • “Battle Of The Ages”

By Richard Pagliaro


LONDON—A battle of the ages brings opportunity for advancement when the oldest man in the field faces the youngest at the World Tour Finals.


Six-time champion Roger Federer will play 20-year-old Alexander Zverev in the latest episode of their growing rivalry on Tuesday night.


The 36-year-old Swiss has split four meetings with the third-ranked Zverev, who has already toppled the Grand Slam king in pivotal matches.


Alexander Zverev of Germany returns the ball to Marin Cilic of Croatia during their Men’s singles match at the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London, Britain, 12 November 2017. EPA-EFE/WILL OLIVER

Zverev swept Federer, 6-3, 6-4, in the Montreal final in August, avenging a 6-1, 6-3 setback to the Swiss in the Halle final in June.


Though there is a 16-year age gap, the pair are sometime practice partners and very familiar with each other’s games.


“Alexander has been around for a while now,” Federer said after the Montreal final. “Not a whole long time. But at this level, I’ve gotten to play him already now for the fourth or fifth time, practiced a ton with him. We know each other well.


“He’s healthy. He’s motivated. He has a lot of confidence. I like his game. He has a big game. He serves well. He has a great backhand. I like his backhand.”


Pounding deep drives into Federer’s one-handed backhand, Zverev snapped Federer’s 15-match Halle winning streak in 2016.


Tuesday night’s rematch pits Zverev’s aggressive baseline game against Federer’s all-court acumen.


The second-ranked Federer will need to assert his variety and mix his short-angled slice backhand with forehand drives to displace the 6’6” German from the baseline.


“I know he’s probably the best player taking time away from an opponent,” Zverev said. “If he gets an offensive game going it’s very tough to beat him.”


Federer will advance to the final four if he defeats Zverev in straight sets or if he beats Zverev and Jack Sock, whom Federer stopped in his opener, defeats Marin Cilic in Tuesday afternoon’s match.


Zverev will qualify for the semifinals if he beats Federer and Cilic defeats Sock.


“Look, I mean, I think anyone beating Federer in this group has a good chance of passing,” Zverev said after rallying past Cilic, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 on Sunday night. “But he’s the favorite definitely in all of the matches he plays.”

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