Alexander Zverev: In Elite Company

NextGen Alexander Zverev ATP Finals

Given his recent rise and success, 21-year-old Alexander Zverev seems poised to fill the role as the next big superstar on the ATP Tour.

After winning the ATP year-end event last month at the O2 Arena in London, Zverev now has 10 ATP titles to his name, including three Masters titles.

The 6’6″ German is currently the fourth ranked player in the world – behind only Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer. It’s interesting to note that the three men ahead of him in the ATP rankings have a combined 51 Grand Slam titles between them.

With Zverev just entering his prime, many of his supporters are predicting Grand Slam titles for him in the not-too-distant future.

Known as an aggressive baseliner and also for his strong two handed backhand, the 21-year-old captured the biggest title of his career in November when he defeated Djokovic to win the Nitto ATP Finals in London, England.

“Obviously this is the biggest title of my career so far. This trophy means a lot, everything, to all the players. I mean, you only have so many chances of winning it. You play against the best players only,” he said after his victory over the current World No. 1.

After advancing through the round robin, Zverev would beat Federer in the semifinals, and then of course, Djokovic in the finals to win the prestigious year-end tournament.

Federer was impressed by the young German’s game.

“He’s got what it takes to win against anybody,” said the 20-time Grand Slam champion about Zverev after their semifinals match.

Zverev also received praise from Djokovic after their championship match.

“Certainly winning against Roger anywhere gives you a lot of confidence. I’m sure he took a lot of confidence and positivity from that win. It was a very close match. He stayed mentally tough and composed. He carried that into today’s match,” noted the world No. 1 and 14-time Grand Slam champion.

While they compete fiercely on the tennis courts, Djokovic reveals that off the courts, he and Zverev are good friends.

“I’m happy that he won the big title because we have a really good and friendly relationship. We reside in the same place. We train a lot. We see each other a lot. He comes from a really nice family,” Djokovic noted.

The current World No. 1 also predicts a big things ahead for the 21-year-old.

“There’s a lot of similarities in terms of trajectory of professional tennis, in our careers. Hopefully he can surpass me,” said Djokovic.

“I mean, I sincerely wish him that. He seems like someone that is very dedicated.”

Zverev says winning the year-end title in London was great; but beating the two tennis legends to accomplish the feat was an eye-opening experience.

“It’s quite astonishing, winning this title, beating two such players back-to-back, Roger and Novak, in semifinals and finals. Means so much. I’m incredibly happy and incredibly proud of this moment right now,” said Zverev in his post match presser.

Taking a look back at his journey, Zverev first started playing the game of tennis at the age of five. In 2014, he would win the junior boys Australian Open title; and later that year he won the Braunschweig Challenger.

After making his way into the Top 100 in 2015, Zverev was named the ATP New Comer of the Year.

His recent victory over Djokovic in London was not the first time he defeated the current world No. 1 to win a big ATP title.

In May of 2017, at the Rome Masters, Zverev would beat the Serbian tennis superstar to capture his first Masters title.  In doing so, he became the youngest player to win a Masters title since Djokovic won the Miami Open as a 20-year-old in 2007.

In August of 2017, the young German captured another Masters title at the Rogers Cup in Montreal; and would rise to number 3 in the ATP rankings by the end of the 2017 season.

As he reflects on his journey, the 21-year-old credits his father Alexander Zverev Sr as the person who has played the biggest role in his current success.

“My dad is the one that gave me the base. My dad is the one that taught me the game of tennis. I’m very thankful to him for that,” Zverev related after winning the Nitto ATP Finals.

“Everything I do on the court is thanks to my dad because he’s been there for the past 21 years. That’s how it is. I mean, he built my foundation. He built the person that I am.”

Zverev also spoke about the important contributions of his coach Ivan Lendl.

“The experience he has on and off the court is amazing,” he noted about the former World No. 1, who was added his coaching team earlier this summer.

Given the fact that legends such as Federer, Djokovic and Nadal have been dominating the sport for so long, it’s understandable that tennis fans are eager see the emergence of the next big superstar.

While many are dubbing Zverev as the man to fill that role given his recent success, the mature and thoughtful 21-year-old prefers not to get caught up on all the hype.

Instead, the current World No. 4 understands and appreciates the fact that he’s already in elite company.

And, as he looks ahead to the 2019 season and beyond, his goal is to simply to work hard and get better each day.

“I’ll do everything I can to be on top. But the other guys are playing great tennis, as well.”

“I have a lot of things to improve. I’m still very young. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to play better tennis than I did this year, even though it’s been a good year.”