Roger Federer Upset by Alexander Zverev at 2018 ATP World Tour Finals

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2018

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 17:  Alexander Zverev of Germany plays a forehand shot in his semi finals singles match against Roger Federer of Switzerland during Day Seven of the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 Arena on November 17, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Roger Federer crashed out of the 2018 ATP World Tour Finals in straight sets to German Alexander Zverev in Saturday's first semi-final.

The 21-year-old won 7-5, 7-6 (5) to make his first final in the season-ending event.

Zverev claimed the opener with the first break point of the match at the O2 Arena in London, and his clinical serving in the second-set tiebreak proved too much for the 37-year-old Swiss, who remains one short of 100 career titles.

Zverev will take on either Novak Djokovic or Kevin Anderson in the final; the pair play their last-four contest later on Saturday.

The holds of serve rattled past in quick succession in the first set, with Zverev particularly impressing with his speed:

David Law @DavidLawTennis

Assumed earlier this week that we’d just got a fast gun given the speeds Zverev was reaching. Not so sure now. He’s effortlessly reeling off serves faster than anyone else here.

A tiebreak seemed inevitable, but at 6-5 the 21-year-old pounced at the perfect moment. He won three points in a row on Federer's servethe second via a brilliant forehand down the lineto put the set within his grasp, and he took it at the first attempt after a fine return of serve.

Federer earned the early advantage in the second to lead 2-1 with a glorious backhand having squandered his first two break points. However, Zverev came straight back, pouncing on a mistake from Federer to break serve and draw level again at 2-2.

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 17:  Roger Federer of Switzerland looks on in his semi finals singles match against Alexander Zverev of Germany during Day Seven of the Nitto ATP Finals at The O2 Arena on November 17, 2018 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive B
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The youngster was firmly in the ascendancy for the remainder of the set, regularly holding with ease to nudge ahead before piling pressure on Federer's serve.

Despite the fact that he was merely clinging on for much of the set, Federer was able to force a tiebreak and keep his hopes of taking the match to a decider alive.

A tense tiebreaker included a contentious moment when a ball boy behind Federer dropped a ball during a rally, giving Zverev his first serve back when the point had to be replayed:

Stuart Fraser @stu_fraser

Quite embarrassing from those spectators booing. Television footage clearly shows that the ball boy dropped the ball at the back of the court as he attempted to pass the ball to the girl standing behind him. Point correctly replayed. #ATPFinals

It was the veteran superstar who was the first to blink as he netted a volley at 5-4 down to hand Zverev two match points.

Federer saved the first, but a brilliantly played service point from Zverev at 6-5 ahead handed him a deserved victory.