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Sports

Zverev prepares for battle with Federer at ATP Finals

media Alex Zverev is competing at the end of season championships for the first time. Reuters/Tony O'Brien

Alex Zverev was still in kindergarten when Roger Federer played in his first end of season championships. That tournament in 2002 was called the Tennis Masters Cup and took place in Shanghai. A 21-year-old Federer, who was still without a Grand Slam, reached the semi-final after beating Jiri Novak, Thomas Johansson and Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Fast forward 15 Novembers and Federer has 19 Grand Slam trophies in his cabinet and the 36-year-old Swiss is attempting on Tuesday to advance to another semi-final.

In 2017, the event is staged at the 02 Arena in London and called the ATP Finals. Ferrero is also still on the circuit but not as a player. He is 20-year-old Zverev’s coach.

“It’s very important having him around and I think he can help me a lot mentally,” said Zverev of the 37-year-old Spaniard who is only six months older than Federer. “Juan Carlos has played in all these types of tournaments and he’s played great in all of them.”

Ferrero’s best result at the end of season championships was as runner-up in November 2002. Seven months later he went on to claim his only Grand Slam triumph at the French Open in Paris.

A plethora of majors are predicted for Ferrero’s charge. Zverev is the youngest competitor at the eight man event since a 20-year-old Novak Djokovic participated in the 2007 tournament in Shanghai. Tipped as a future world number one, he is in London on the back of five titles this season including the Rome Masters.

And the third seed enters the clash against second seed Federer with the best possible kind of preparation. He has won two of their four meetings most recently in the final at the Rogers Cup in Montreal in August.

“Anyone who beats Federer has a good chance of making the semi-finals in London,” said Zverev. “But he’s the favourite in all of the matches he plays.”

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