Kevin Anderson believes Novak Djokovic is back at the same level as when he dominated the tennis world to hold all four Grand Slams in 2015-16 and thinks Alexander Zverev needs a near-flawless serving performance in order to trouble the world No. 1 at the ATP Finals.
The South African was humbled by the top seed on Saturday night, with Djokovic sweeping him aside 6-2 6-2 to book his spot in the final of the season-ending event.
Anderson couldnt hide his disappointment in his own display, but was full of praise for his 31-year-old opponent, who is yet to be broken throughout the week.
And while he believes forming a game plan to beat the Serb is tough to do, he outlined what Zverev needs to do in order to pull off an upset.
From my side, going in there, I knew I had to take care of my serve games, he said. Ive got one of the best serves in the world. I felt like on a very good serving day, its going to be some close games. But I had to figure out a way to get it done.
If I look at the match in Shanghai as an example, I was broken once in the second, but outside of that I thought I did a good job of taking care of my serve games. I think a big difference in those two matches is my comfort level was much, much higher in Shanghai.
But yeah, I mean, its tough because hes serving really well the last few weeks. Hes not losing many points on serve. From the return standpoint, hes returning well, playing well. Definitely makes life difficult.
Alex is playing great tennis, in the finals. I know Novak is really going to respect the challenge that Alex brings. Alex is going to have to take care of his serve games well, try to make Novak real uncomfortable. I think its really going to be a good match to watch.
When asked if Djokovic had returned to the same levels shown at his peak, he added: Ive played him quite a few times. Earlier this year: Can he regain some of the form hes had over the last few years? My response was it would be very tough because he set the bar so high. It only seems like these last few weeks, hes back at his best.
You have to ask him how he feels. It would be really interesting to hear his perspective of how he feels. From an outside perspective, its remarkable what hes done since Wimbledon, the tennis hes playing, some of the stats.
I cant imagine he was more dominant on serve even in his best years than he has been especially these last few months. This week has been really impressive. I dont think hes been broken this week.
It seems like hes definitely right back playing some of the best tennis of his career. It certainly seems that way. His results only would suggest that, as well.
Anderson has enjoyed another fine season, finishing as runner-up at Wimbledon and qualifying for the ATP Finals for the first time, but he is setting his sights high next year and targeting a top-three finish and a first major title.
Im definitely looking at putting myself in the mix there. Top five was a big goal of mine for a long time, he continued. Hopefully next year this time Ill finish top three.
I think that will be a great goal for me. In order to do that, youre going to have to have very good results at Masters Series and Slams. Hopefully Ill have a couple of titles, Masters Series, being in finals there, putting myself in finals of slams, hopefully winning one. Thats the ultimate goal.
I feel like Ive put myself in a position where I feel like Im a contender, a legitimate one. Theres some things I need to do better at certain stages of tournaments, but thats what well be working at.