Majors Part Of Zverev's Major Plans
For most players, five singles titles, two ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies and a career-high ATP Ranking of No.3 — all by the age of 20 — would be tough to top. As Alexander Zverev proved over the course of 2017, he isn't most players — and he also isn't easily satisfied.
"I think improving on the Grand Slam performances is one thing [to work on]," Zverev said. "The furthest I got was to the fourth round of Wimbledon. A lot of times it wasn't because I played badly, but because I played very good opponents; I lost to [Rafael] Nadal. I lost to Milos Raonic at Wimbledon. Both times in five sets. That's nothing to worry about too much. But obviously that's one goal for me this year."
In May 2017, Zverev downed a tough slate of opponents — current World No. 11 Kevin Anderson and four players who were inside the Top 30 of the ATP Rankings, including Novak Djokovic in the final, to lift the Internazionali BNL d’Italia trophy and become the youngest winner of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in 10 years (since Djokovic). Zverev continued his run of form by claiming another ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy three months later at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, where he defeated Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4 to hoist the title. To close the year on a high note, Zverev became the youngest qualifier at the Nitto ATP Finals since Juan Martin del Potro at the 2008 season finale.
While he has achieved plenty, the 6’6” German can still pick out his own shortcomings. And while the Grand Slam losses might not keep him up at night, that doesn't mean Zverev hasn't spent his waking hours calculating ways to improve. And if any feather is missing in his cap, it is a breakout performance at a major — Zverev has yet to advance to a quarter-final at a Grand Slam.
"I'm No.4 in the world for a reason," Zverev said. "I'm not trying to sound cocky or anything, but I've always said that I've been working hard physically; I'm always trying to improve my performances at Grand Slams. Hopefully I can do so this week.”
Zverev feels that cardio has not played a factor in his early losses. The right-hander believes he can last five sets if pushed to the limit; his opponent's skill levels had more to do with his losses at the Grand Slams than his fitness.
"For me, physically when I go five sets, I feel fine," Zverev said. "As I said, I lost to Nadal on a grass court and [Raonic] on a hard court. So, it's not a big thing to worry about for me. As I said, I had one bad match at a Grand Slam last year, at the US Open. Besides that, I don't think it was that big of a deal."
Zverev will have a chance to show why those losses were not "that big of a deal" at Melbourne Park, where he begins his campaign against Thomas Fabbiano.
The potential competition from all comers in Melbourne hardly bothers the German. But if he is to match or top his career-best performance at a major, advancing to or further than the Round of 16, he may need to take out his older brother, Mischa Zverev, in the third round to do it. How would he handle that moment?
"I think it would be a special moment for all [the family]," Zverev said. "I mean, two brothers playing at a Grand Slam against each other, you don't see that very often. If it happens, of course I want to win and I think he will want to win as well. It will be a fun moment for the entire family."