World number one Novak Djokovic, who narrowly missed the ATP Finals title after going down to Alexander Zverev of Germany in the summit showdown, has stated that despite the loss he is proud to have a "phenomenal season" during which he reclaimed his top world ranking.
The German, the youngest finalist in nine years at just 21, showed huge confidence in a high-quality final as he dispatched the 14-time Grand Slam champion 6-4, 6-3.
"This is the biggest title of my career so far, this trophy means a lot, everything, to all the players. You barely lost a match I am actually very happy you lost one this week!"
"I think on the moral side, you can't really say anything about Zverev because it did really happen and he's not someone that cheats".
Zverev made a vital hold from 0-30 down at 3-2, picking up a attractive volley near his feet as Djokovic fought desperately to regain parity. "It's a very long season but you guys make it very enjoyable for all of us and it's a pleasure to perform in front of you". Beating his idol Federer for a third time was perhaps not that much of a shock, but having the confidence to stop a rally in the second-set tie-break due to a loose tennis ball in his eyeline was noteworthy. The young German won three titles, including the Masters 1000 title in Paris, and a tour-high of 58, with which he surpassed his previous best of 55.
Djokovic believes Zverev's win could have deeper significance for the men's game, with the world number one saying he "deserves everything he gets". Zverev has called the 20-time grand slam champion a "true inspiration", "the greatest player of all time" and "someone that I've looked up to my whole life" across several Instagram posts.
Zverev secured his second successive appearance at the ATP Finals by reaching the Shanghai semi-finals before reaching the same stage in Basel as he reached the mark of 50 wins in the season.
Federer was leading 4-3 when Zverev stopped mid-rally after a ball slipped from a ball boys' hand and into his line of vision.
"I will do everything I can to get better, to compete with them always".
A high-quality first set remained on serve in the opening eight games, both players only managing to win three receiving points up to then, before a stray forehand from Djokovic - a rare unforced error this week - brought the first break point of the match in the following game. "But it was a very sad moment in the same time because that was not the way I wanted to win". I mean, you only have so many chances of winning it. Definitely not mad at him.
Zverev hopes he can one day reach Djokovic's level, but said it was too soon to discuss that. I certainly can not advocate this with confidence. I appreciate you all coming out to support and show love for the sport.
At 21, the German is the youngest semifinalist since 2009 and the first German since 2003.