Zverev Primed For Nadal Battle
German teenager cites improved strength for Indian Wells breakthrough
Back-to-back triumphs over Top 30 players at the BNP Paribas Open have #NextGen star Alexander Zverev’s confidence in the zone. The German’s upset of No. 16 seed Gilles Simon sets up a fourth-round crack at three-time Indian Wells champion, fourth seed Rafael Nadal.
“Rafa, he’s one of the greatest in the sport ever, winning 14 slams," Zverev said. "He’s probably one of the greatest fighters ever, so it would be a big honour to play against someone like him.”
Still only 18, Zverev is under no illusions as to how far he must still improve before he can match it on a daily basis with the ATP World Tour’s big guns. Under the guidance of fitness coach Jez Green he is carefully adding the necessary power and endurance.
“I have been working on that for the past two years now with Jez,” Zverev said. “I think we did great in the past few years, but I think there is a lot more work that has to be done from the physical part, as well.
“I think that's probably one of the biggest parts of the game these days. Playing on a daily basis with those kind of guys, with the big guys, you have to be really, really strong.”
In a Davis Cup tie against the Czech Republic last week, Zverev learnt plenty. He bowed in a gruelling four-hour, 20-minute five-set duel to Tomas Berdych, the World No. 7 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. Two days later, he was soundly beaten in straight sets in the reverse singles, falling to Lukas Rosol.
Berdych – a player who also works with Green – later predicted the young German would be a future World No. 1. “We have been really good friends with him,” Zverev said. “We practise quite a lot. He gives me quite good advice, as well. We’re really kind of close to each other.
“So if someone like him says something like that it's always a big honour. I know that I still have a lot of work ahead of me. As I said, I think it’s a long way there.”