Alexander Zverev finished the 2018 season in the best possible way, defeating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to claim his first title in the ATP Nitto Finals, so far, the biggest victory of his career. The German added three ATP Masters 1000, and took the No. 3 in the ATP Ranking, his performance in London will hardly be forgotten.
Zverev hopes that such a victory will take him in the right road to a great success. According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, Zverev was one of the best ATP players Grand Slams during 2018. Last year, Zverev was in the 11th place of the ATP, with a record of 10-4 in Grand Slams, translated to a 71.4 winning percentage.
At Roland Garros 2018, the German became the eighth player in the Open Era to battle through three matches to five consecutive sets, and the first to do so since Tommy Robredo in 2013. He lost to the eventual finalist Dominic Thiem in quarterfinals. But after his victory in the O2, he is ready to take another step forward.
“I don’t think I didn’t do well during the Slams. I think there have been some unfortunate moments for me … I’ve done very well in Paris, then I got injured”, Zverev said after his victory in London. “The other Grand Slams, I played against a very good [Hyeon] Chung at the Australian Open, in which I lost a five-set match. Wimbledon I wasn’t ready to play because of the injury that happened at Roland Garros. US Open I had a bad game. These things happen. It’s okay.”
Another reason to keep the optimism is that 14 of the losses during Grand Slams, has lost after winning two of the first three sets, with those losses being against Rafael Nadal (finalist at Australian Open 2017), Milos Raonic (finalist at Wimbledon 2017) and Hyeong Chung (semifinals in Melbourne last year).
To make increase his game, Zverev hired former World No. 1 Ivan Lendl before the US Open. Lendl knows what Zverev is going through, as he reached four Slam finals before finally winning the first of eight Grand Slam trophies at Roland Garros in 1984. While his association did not give immediate results at Flushing Meadows -Zverev lost in third round against Philipp Kohlschreiber – the German believes he could help him take the next step.
“He said it’s a process to get there. It’s a process playing well in Grand Slams” said Zverev. “He told me before the US Open that hoped I do well, but we are more oriented towards next year.”
A legend who is not concerned about Zverev’s results in the past Slams is the former World No. 1, Boris Becker, who met the 21-year-old when he was only 10 years old.
“He played the last two years at a high level. You wait as a young player to take the next step in the biggest tournaments and in the Grand Slams, unfortunately, he hasn’t made to a semifinal. But I think the way he played all week against the best players seemed to be very promising for 2019”, Becker told ATPTour.com after Zverev’s career at the Nitto Finals. “It starts with yourself. If you gain some confidence, if you start defeating the best tennis players in the world day after day, you start to believe that you really belong there. That’s why I think it was a breakthrough. “