World Tour Finals preview and prediction: Federer vs. Zverev

Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev will be squaring off for the fifth time in their careers when they each try to remain undefeated in round-robin competition at the World Tour Finals on Tuesday night.

The head-to-head series is all tied up at two wins apiece, including 1-1 this season. Federer dominated the Halle final 6-1, 6-3 before Zverev won their only hard-court encounter to date via a 6-3, 6-4 decision in the Montreal title match. In 2016, Federer got the job done 6-3, 7-5 on the clay courts of Rome only to see Zverev prevail 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-3 in the Halle semifinals.

A back injury plagued Federer is his Montreal loss to Zverev and also contributed to a rough road at the U.S. Open, where the Swiss survived several tight matches before succumbing to Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarters. It’s safe to say that the back is no longer an issue. Federer is 11-0 since the U.S. Open with titles in Shanghai and Basel plus a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over Jack Sock on Sunday in London.

“I think we’re all going to start playing better every round that goes by,” Federer said after beating Sock. “It’s just still early days in the tournament. (You) can’t expect to play your best against the best players in the world in that first match…. I think that’s the difficulty in a first round usually at any tournament. Here it’s amplified because it’s against a fellow top-10 player. It just makes things really, really difficult.”

It will be a fellow top-three player on the other side of the net in this one. Zverev’s ascension to the top of the sport in 2017 was highlighted by Masters 1000 titles in Montreal and Rome, plus additional titles in Montpellier, Munich, and Washington, D.C. The 20-year-old German slumped to the tune of an 8-7 record in his last seven tournaments prior to London, but he scored an impressive 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win over World Tour Finals veteran Marin Cilic on Sunday night.

Thus it is Zverev who has a better lifetime winning percentage at the year-end championship than Federer. Of course, his sample size is just a bit smaller. Whereas Zverev is 1-0, Federer owns an amazing 53-12 career record at this event with six titles.

“I think anyone beating Federer in this group [would have] a good chance of passing (to the semifinals),” Zverev assessed. “But he’s the favorite, definitely, in all of the matches he plays. I played him a few times this year now…. All of them were great matches. Hopefully it can be another one.”

Given how well the underdog did to battle back from a break down in the third set against Cilic and how well he has played against Federer in the past, another competitive one should be in the cards. But the world No. 2 will likely raise the level he showcased against Sock and improve to 2-0 following a tough fight.

Pick: Federer in 3

55 Comments on World Tour Finals preview and prediction: Federer vs. Zverev

      • I like your pick of “Federer will win. If not, Zverev will win.”, Ricky!lol You can never go wrong with it!lol

        Fed to win in 2 tight sets mostly. 3 sets can also happen. But in the end Fed’s hand will be raised!

        Fed will win and avenge his defeat to Zverev @2017 Montreal Open.

        Fed will win because:-

        1) Fed is in far better form than Zverev currently.

        We should not give Sascha’s win over a poor Cilic (losing form rapidly ad is probably tiring from a very long season in 2017.)

        2) Fed is not having any back problems now like he had in Montreal, which is the reason he lost to Sascha in Montreal O!

        3) Fed is on FIRE and plays well on IH and especially the WTF!

        4) Fed always takes Revenge for his losses!lol

        Like Federer ML and -2 FED Fed -1.5 sets might hit

  1. I am tempted to guess that an upset could happen here… If anyone could realistically cause an upset on Federer here, it would be Zverev. The head has to say Federer because he hasn’t lost to a top player this year when he wasn’t having back issues. But my heart is telling me to lean toward Zverev for no particular reason….. Ok, I’m going with the head on this one I guess. Federer in 3.

    Whoever does win this match, though, I believe will have to replicate the same performance in the final, as I am picking these two to meet in the final.

  2. This match reminds me of Montreal so far. Zverev looks incredibly good from the baseline. Fed is going to have to play his best to win.

  3. Fed has that look like he isn’t going to lose, but Zverev has hit 80% of 1st serves at average speed of 130mph. Alex won’t lose if he continues to serve like that.

  4. Fed very lucky to win that TB. He was almost playing rope a dope tennis for a bit there, and was very tight, I thought, not confident to go for his shots.

  5. Zverev looks rather one dimensional, he couldn’t handle Fed’s slices and he’s not clutch where it matters. He lost a winnable set of tennis.

    Fed doesn’t look like he’s unbeatable here, he’s lucky to scrape past that first set imo.

    • Not disagreeing. But luck is averaged throughout and career. He lost against Donskoy and he should have won. Then won against Berdych, when most probably should have lost… at the end everyone is getting approximately what he/she deserves.

  6. 2 DFs in a row. Don’t often see that from Fed. Toss is too low. Fed’s game falling apart here but he someone wins the point. What’s with all the drop shots? And Zverev has the break.

  7. Not surprising that Fed has to play so many TBs this season and winning many, because he’s just more clutch than these players.

    • Definitely; and sooner rather than later, imo. His serve alone has improved massively this year. And he’s still only 20. He has the whole package: youth, size, work ethic.

  8. Fed’s 1st serve pct. has plummeted and he’s mostly gone away from the slice. He’ll be lucky to scrape through this set at this level.

  9. The only one from this forum? I think lots of people were not sure about Federer winning this. It’s not like he plays against Sock. So, you being the only one predicting a possible Zverev win over Fed is at least funny and hilarious.

  10. If Sock beats Zverev next, will Sock be in the SF? The way Zverev is playing, I think Sock can beat him, and Sock looks the player with more varieties in his game.

    After watching all these matches, I think I’ll prefer Sock over Zverev to reach the SF. Sock’s game looks more watchable, at least he has a slice, Zverev apparently doesn’t have one.

  11. Federer Monnnnnnnney LINE WINS! Who went with the GOATish old man?

    Congrats to all the GOATfans(that includes me)!lol

    -4 Fed Pre bet wins. +4 Handsome LB loses.

    Over wins big!

  12. Fed certainly was very, very far from his best but he’s a champion. AZ not so much. Not yet, anyway. Kinda suspecting Fed has back and/or fatigue issues. Still, against this pathetic competition I think he wins all his matches. Days off between matches will help.

  13. Zeverev, like Thiem, has played too many matches this year and both are on their knees. Many of their generation of players are falling into the same trap in their bid to climb through the rankings.

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