Australian Open (1/4 final): Novak Djokovic – Alexander Zverev

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These two Top 10 players have already met 7 times in official matches. Unsurprisingly, Novak Djokovic leads in this head-to-head with 5 victories.

We have to go back to 2018, at the Masters in London, to see Alexander Zverev win against the world’s number 1.

It should also be noted that they last crossed paths in early February at the ATP Cup. Alexander Zverev had won the first set in the tiebreak before falling.

Tournament history

This is Novak Djokovic’s 17th participation in this Grand Slam tournament which he has already won 8 times (including last year). The Serb reached the quarter-finals 11 times and fell only 3 times at this level of the competition.

For his part, Alexander Zverev is playing the Australian Open for the sixth time in his career. This is the second year in a row that he has reached the quarter-finals, and his best performance is a semi-final (in 2020).

In this edition

The course of Novak Djokovic in this 2021 edition is quite bizarre. Indeed, it is only during his first match against Jeremy Chardy that he did not lose a set. Apart from this one, the Americans Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz managed to steal a total of 3 sets from him. Finally, Milos Raonic also allowed himself to nibble one set.

Alexander Zverev, for his part, did the opposite. That is to say, he only dropped one set in his first match against Giron. The German then went on to face Cressy, Mannarino and finally Lajovic.

Analysis

No one really knows whether to believe Novak Djokovic and his supposed injury. In fact, he put a layer on at the end of his 1/8 final win over Raonic, announcing that he didn’t know 3 hours beforehand if he was going to show up on the court. The Serb also said he was on pain killers, and that he would have withdrawn if it wasn’t for a Grand Slam tournament. In short, if he loses to Alexander Zverev, his excuse is obvious.

And that’s what worries me the most because it’s a bit Novak Djokovic who will decide the result of this match.

Alexander Zverev hasn’t really had to force it since the beginning of this Australian Open. Indeed, none of his previous opponents have been able to push him to the limit. The German remained in his comfort zone, serving very well but also making many winning shots.

It is obvious that the continuation of this match should be quite different if Novak Djokovic manages to spread his wings. Indeed, Alexander Zverev will have to deal with one of the best receivers of the circuit. This makes me say that he should offer a lot more possibilities on his service games. In the rallies, the German’s backhand throttle will have someone to answer him as Novak Djokovic’s is also very sharp. And that, from any position (which is moreover the most incredible in this player).

Normally, I would have had little doubt to predict a victory for Novak Djokovic. Alexander Zverev is very good on this surface (he is not one of the last US Open finalists for nothing). But he still lacks some small details, especially on the mental level, to win against the world number 1.

Novak Djokovic does not say 100%. If he is well injured and even if he has an outstanding recovery capacity, then Alexander Zverev has a real card to play. As I said in the analysis of his last match, if Novak Djokovic doesn’t believe in his chances of winning, then I don’t see him showing up on the court. Or he won’t make it to the end of the match. Maybe he’s too proud, and the possible loss of money this would generate will undoubtedly be anecdotal.

Novak Djokovic shot with painkillers, for an unprecedented semi-final against Aslan Karatsev? The latter will then take advantage of Novak Djokovic’s forfeit to make it to the final. The expression “to have the ass lined with noodles” will then have all its meaning.

Prediction: Novak Djokovic wins

Medium risk

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