Zverev Looking Ahead After Breakthrough Rome Title
German continues to focus on the work
Alexander Zverev won his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title on Sunday at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, but he’s already thinking about the work he’ll need to put in for more big titles in the future.
By defeating Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s Rome final, Zverev will crack the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time at No. 10. However, the young German said his fellow #NextGenATP peers quickly moving up the rankings, in addition to the slew of in-form players on tour at the moment, means he can’t rest on his laurels.
“When I was 11 or 12, I thought I'd probably win about four Slams already by the age of 20,” joked Zverev. “Then when I was 16, everything started to be more realistic. I could not imagine Top 10 by the age of 20. It's something truly amazing. Getting there is one thing, but staying there is going to be very, very difficult.
“Even though I won this title, I will be back on the practice courts very soon trying to improve my game,” said Zverev. “I’m trying to get better and accomplish even more.”
His win over Djokovic in the final was particularly poignant since the Serbian has literally watched Zverev grow up. Djokovic has long played a supportive role in Zverev’s tennis development and, with the exception of when they face off in matches, is rooting for him to succeed.
“He’s known me since I was four years old. My brother and him are the same age and played juniors together. I always practised with him. He always took me for warm-ups when I was still a junior at big tournaments and Grand Slams,” said Zverev. “Our relationship is very good. He obviously wished me all the best for the future and in Paris and I wished him that also. He’s one of the best guys on tour.”
Zverev is now in the unique position of being able to qualify for the ATP Finals and the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. He moves to fourth in the Emirates ATP Race to London and holds a dominant lead in the Emirates ATP Race to Milan, which determines who will qualify for the event from 7-11 November.
But while Zverev holds more than triple the points of all his peers in the Emirates ATP Race to Milan, he was quick to acknowledge the success many of them have had this year.
“We have seven or eight top 100 guys under the age of 21 right now. It's not like I'm the only one who has success,” said Zverev. “Obviously there will always be good juniors, World No. 1 players who will have a more difficult time in the pros than they had in juniors because they may be expecting themselves to win from the beginning, and it doesn't always work like that. You have to keep doing the work and improving.”
His modest approach is also reflected in his thoughts on Roland Garros, where he downplayed his chances of prevailing at the second Grand Slam of the year. Although he is one of the clear contenders to make a deep run in Paris, Zverev was unwilling to declare himself as the man to beat.
“The strong favorite is still definitely Rafael Nadal. Novak is playing great again. Dominic Thiem has been showing he's been playing very well,” said Zverev. “I just won here, so I’ve got to put myself on that list, even though I don't want to say that I'm the favourite myself. But the guys who have been playing the best over the past few weeks are definitely the favourites.”