We profile the rising star of the ATP World Tour, Alexander Zverev, who is now adding titles to brilliant natural talent.
Zverev secured his fourth title of the year on the outdoor hard courts of Washington last week, a surface he had previously failed to master, and his performances suggest he is edging closer to a maiden major title.
He has become the youngest player to win four tournaments in a season since Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro in 2008.
“I think I improved a lot in the last few months and in this off-season so I can be able to win these kinds of tournaments,” Zverev said.
“I showed in Rome and I’m showing it here again. I just hope I can continue playing well like this or even make it better in the summer. We’ll see what the next few big tournaments hold for me.”
His words are testament to the ambition he has within the game and the drive he holds to get there.
Season so far
Zverev’s victory at the Citi Open, his first 500-level title, was his fifth title in 11 months, underlining the consistent upward trajectory which has enabled him to have such a breakthrough campaign.
The title came in his first tournament under the tutelage of former French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero, proving Zverev’s determination to learn, adapt and mould his game plan to a specific situation.
“He’s such an easy guy to be around that it was such an easy decision for me to take him into the team,” Zverev said about Ferrero, who will work with Alexander Zverev Sr, who has coached Zverev Jr throughout his career.
“He doesn’t want to take my father’s place; my father doesn’t want to take his place. From that kind of view, he was the perfect fit.”
Prior to Washington, Zverev won the biggest tournament of his career to date by securing an emphatic victory over Novak Djokovic in Rome and won titles in Montpellier and Munich in differing conditions to showcase his all-game ability.
There is a degree of effortlessness to Zverev’s game – similar to Roger Federer – but one of his major qualities is his unquestioned work ethic.
This will be vital if he wants to become stronger and more durable in the longer encounters, something that will be paramount if wants to challenge at the majors over five-sets.
His service motion is incredibly effective and is a weapon on both first and second serve. He won an incredible 82 per cent of his service points during his final in Washington against Kevin Anderson.
“I obviously want to improve as fast and as much as I can until I’m at the top of the game,” Zverev said. “That’s what I’m trying to do. But it’s not (just) in my hands.
Nevertheless there remains a question mark over his ability to contend against the very best, which came to fruition when the German was put to the sword by Federer in Halle where the 36-year-old strolled to a 6-1 6-3 victory.
There’s also the question of his temperament which can fluctuate. On the back of beating Djokovic at the Rome Masters, Zverev came into the French Open full of confidence but was sent packing at the first hurdle by veteran Fernando Verdasco.
In that encounter he failed to deliver to his true potential and appeared to lose his focus on the job at hand as his shrewd Spanish opponent took control with his aggressive baseline hitting.
Zverev will be determined to maintain his good start to the American hard court series of tournaments in Montreal before heading to Cincinnati ahead of the final major of the season.
The US Open later this month might come a bit too soon for a first major triumph, with Federer and Nadal strong favourites, but he will want to improve on his best run at a major which came last month at Wimbledon when he reached the fourth round.
His chances look promising as well following the withdrawals of notable figures through injury in Djokovic and defending champion Stan Wawrinka.
Looking beyond the US Open he is firmly on track to reach two major season-ending tournaments – the Next Gen ATP finals in Milan and the World Tour finals in London.
The 6’6″ Zverev has jumped two places in the ATP Race To London and has extended his commanding lead at the top of the leaderboard for the Race to Milan, where the inaugural Next Gen event will be held.
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