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Alexander "Sascha" Zverev[3] ([ˌalɛˈksandɐ ˈzaʃa ˈtsfɛʁɛf];[4][5][6] born 20 April 1997) is a German professional tennis player. He is the second-youngest player ranked in the top 10 by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), and was a permanent fixture in the top 5 throughout 2018. He has won 11 ATP titles in singles and two in doubles.

Alexander Zverev
Alexander Zverev (42068440390).jpg
Zverev at the 2018 Washington Open
Country (sports) Germany
ResidenceMonte Carlo, Monaco
Born (1997-04-20) 20 April 1997 (age 22)[1]
Hamburg, Germany
Height1.98 m (6 ft 6 in)
Turned pro2013
PlaysRight-handed (two-handed backhand)
CoachAlexander Zverev Sr.
Prize moneyUS$18,808,636
Career record220–110 (66.7% in ATP Tour events)
Career titles11
Highest rankingNo. 3 (6 November 2017)
Current rankingNo. 6 (12 August 2019)
Grand Slam Singles results
Australian Open4R (2019)
French OpenQF (2018, 2019)
Wimbledon4R (2017)
US Open4R (2019)
Other tournaments
Tour FinalsW (2018)
Career record41–46 (47.1% in ATP Tour & Grand Slam main draw matches, and in Davis Cup)
Career titles2
Highest rankingNo. 68 (18 March 2019)
Current rankingNo. 70 (14 October 2019)
Grand Slam Doubles results
French Open1R (2016)
Team competitions
Davis CupQF (2018)
Hopman CupF (2018, 2019)
Last updated on: 14 October 2019.

Zverev is the reigning champion at the ATP Finals, making him the youngest winner at the year-end championship in a decade. Zverev is the only active player outside of the Big Four with three Masters titles. He has been praised by members of the Big Four as one of their potential successors. Rafael Nadal has called him a "clear possible future No. 1."[7] Novak Djokovic has said, "Hopefully, he can surpass me."[8]

Zverev was born into a tennis family. His parents Irina and Alexander Sr. both played professionally for the Soviet Union, and his older brother Mischa is also a professional who has been ranked as high as No. 25 in the world. Zverev is a former world No. 1 junior, and won a junior Grand Slam singles title at the 2014 Australian Open. He had an early breakthrough on the professional tour as well, becoming one of the youngest Challenger title winners in history at the age of 17. As a teenager, Zverev won two ATP titles and also upset then world No. 3 Roger Federer on grass. At 20 years old, he was the youngest player to debut in the top 20 since Djokovic.

Early life and backgroundEdit

Alexander "Sascha" Zverev was born on 20 April 1997 in Hamburg, Germany, to Irina Zvereva and Alexander Mikhailovich Zverev. He has an older brother Mischa who was born nearly a decade earlier and is a professional tennis player as well. Both of Sascha's parents were professional tennis players for the Soviet Union. His father was ranked as high as No. 175 in the world. He was also the top-ranked men's player nationally, while his mother was the fourth-highest ranked women's player. They both moved from Sochi to the capital to train at the CSKA Moscow military-run tennis club. The Soviet government often restricted their players from competing outside the country, an impediment that limited how high either of Sascha's parents could rise in the world rankings. With the collapse of the Soviet Union imminent, Irina went to Germany to compete at a tournament in 1990, with her husband accompanying as her coach. While in Germany, they were offered jobs as tennis instructors. After initially declining, they accepted an offer to work at the Uhlenhorster Hockey Club in Hamburg the following year and ended up settling in the country.[9]

Sascha began playing tennis at a very young age. He has said, "One day, when I was I think one year and five months old, I just picked up a little racket, and I was starting to push the ball all over our apartment, and since then they took me out on the court. I enjoy it still, I enjoyed it back then."[10] When he was five years old, he started to play tennis at least half an hour each day.[10] Sascha was extremely competitive as a child. His brother Mischa said, "He would not understand or accept that he was losing" when the two would play against each other. He would never want to leave the court unless he won the match. Sascha also played hockey and football as a child, but decided to focus only on tennis around the age of 12 after an early-round loss at a high-level international junior tournament in Florida.[9]

When Sascha was young, his mother was his primary coach while his father was focused on coaching his brother. He has said, "I think I have pretty good technique, which my mum did at a young age, so credit to her for that. My backhand, in particular, is 100 per cent down to my mum.”[11] While his mother had a more relaxed teaching style, his father "had a very Soviet way of doing physical training sessions" that involved doing timed drills for fixed numbers of repetitions.[9] Sascha's coaches aimed for him to have a riskier, aggressive playing style built around hitting the ball with pace and finishing points quickly. This was a big contrast from how he played around age 12 when his style centered around being an "unbelievable fighter" from the baseline in part because he was too slow to go to the net.[11] Initially, Sascha struggled to change his playing style. He "made a lot of errors" and lost to opponents who excelled at keeping points alive. However, his father stuck with this strategy, saying, "We must practice fast tennis, aggressive tennis. If you lose today it’s no big deal. You must think about the future."[9][11]

Junior careerEdit

Zverev practising at the 2013 Boodles Challenge

Zverev is a former world No. 1 junior.[12] He entered his first event on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) junior circuit in early 2011 when he was 13. Near the beginning of 2012, Zverev won his first ITF title at the Fujairah Junior Championships, a low-level Grade 4 tournament in the United Arab Emirates. He would pick up a lower level Grade 5 title at the Oman International Junior 2 a few weeks later, which led him to begin competing in higher-level events shortly before his 15th birthday.[12] He did not have much success at tournaments that were Grade 2 and above until the following year when he reached back-to-back doubles finals with Spencer Papa at the Grade A Copa Gerdau and the Grade 1 USTA International Spring Championships.[12][13][14]

Zverev's early-season success in doubles proved to be the precursor of a major improvement in singles as well. During the European clay court season, he won his first Grade 1 title over Andrey Rublev at the Open International Junior de Beaulieu-sur-Mer.[15] He followed up that performance with his first Grade A title at the Trofeo Bonfiglio a month later, becoming the youngest boys' singles champion in the tournament's history.[16] He also finished runner-up at the 2013 French Open to Christian Garín.[17][18] Zverev had some grass court success as well, finishing runner-up to Nick Kyrgios at the Junior International Roehampton.[19] However, he needed to retire at Wimbledon due to a shoulder injury.[20] Zverev came close to reaching another Grand Slam boys' singles final at the 2013 Junior US Open, but was defeated by the eventual champion Borna Ćorić in the semifinals.[21] This success was enough for him to take over the No. 1 ranking in late October. Before the end of the season, Zverev also represented Germany in the Junior Fed Cup, leading them to a fourth-place finish.[12] His last tournament of the year was the Grade A Orange Bowl, where he was defeated by Stefan Kozlov in the semifinals.[22] As the top-ranked junior at the end of the season, he was named the ITF Junior World Champion, becoming the youngest boys' champion since Donald Young in 2005.[23]

Zverev played just two tournaments in 2014, both in Australia in January.[12] He won the singles events at both tournaments, the first of which came against Australian Omar Jasika at the Traralgon Junior International. At the Australian Open, he was able to defeat Kozlov, who was seeded second, to finish his junior career with a first Grand Slam title.[24]

Professional careerEdit

2011–14: Challenger title and ATP semifinal at 17Edit

As the age of 14, Zverev entered qualifying at three different tournaments, including the 2011 Moselle Open on the ATP Tour, but lost all of his matches. He won his professional main draw debut against compatriot Christian Lichtenegger at a Futures event in Germany in August 2012. Towards the end of the year, he made his first professional final, finishing runner-up to Florian Reynet at an ITF $10K event in Florida.[25] Zverev continued to focus on the juniors in 2013 and did not reach another pro-level final that year.[26] However, he did make his main draw debut on the ATP Tour in July, losing to Roberto Bautista Agut at his hometown tournament, the International German Open.[27] He also made his ATP Challenger Tour debut, losing to Máximo González at the Meerbusch Challenger in August.[25]

After wining the boys' singles title at the 2014 Australian Open, Zverev shifted his focus to his professional career, only playing in pro events the rest of the year.[12][26] Initially, he struggled on the pro tour, failing to qualify for the main draw at his first five events of the season. He did not win a main draw match until he recorded a single victory at the Heilbronner Neckarcup Challenger, his tenth event of the year. One of his losses was a retirement against his brother Mischa.[25] Zverev made his first professional breakthrough in July when he won the Braunschweig Challenger for his first professional title, despite entering the tournament with just one career Challenger-level match win and no top 100 victories. Three of the players he defeated were in the top 100, including his first round opponent No. 87 Tobias Kamke, his semifinal opponent No. 56 Andrey Golubev, and his final opponent No. 89 Paul-Henri Mathieu.[28] At the age of 17 years and 2 months, he became the youngest player to win a Challenger title since Bernard Tomic in 2009 and the twelfth youngest in history.[29]

Zverev followed up this title with a breakthrough at the ATP Tour level. He entered the International German Open having never won an ATP match, but managed to reached the semifinals. He recorded four match wins at the event, including his first career victory against Robin Haase and his first top 20 victory over No. 16 Mikhail Youzhny before losing to No. 7 David Ferrer. He became the first 17-year old to defeat a top 20 opponent since Richard Gasquet in 2004 and the first to make a semifinal since Marin Čilić in 2006.[30] Zverev had risen from No. 665 to No. 285 after his Challenger title, and his ATP 500 Series semifinal appearance took him to No. 161 in the world. He finished the season ranked No. 136.[31]

2015: ATP Doubles final, top 100Edit

Zverev at the 2015 US Open

At the beginning of the season, Zverev was still ranked too low to receive direct entry into the main draws of ATP Tour events, which forced him to continue playing Challenger events through July. He also needed to enter qualifying for ATP events throughout the year. Zverev did not qualify for either of the first two Grand Slam singles events of the season.[25] He was able to qualify for his first Masters event at the Miami Open and reached the second round.[32] During the clay court season, Zverev partnered with his brother Mischa to reach his first career ATP final in doubles at the Bavarian International Tennis Championships. The Zverev brothers finished runner-up to top-seeded Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares.[33] Later that month, he won his second career Challenger title at the Heilbronn Neckarcup to crack the top 100 of the ATP rankings.[34]

With a higher ranking, Zverev was directly accepted into Wimbledon. A week before the tournament, he took part in the Boodles Challenge exhibition and surprisingly upset world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets.[35] Zverev backed up this performance in his Grand Slam main draw debut, defeating Teymuraz Gabashvili in a tight match that lasted until 9–7 in the fifth and final set.[36] He lost in the next round to Denis Kudla. Zverev opted to play on clay after Wimbledon and reached another ATP semifinal at the Swedish Open to put him back in the top 100 after one week out.[37][31] In August, Zverev returned to the United States and competed in two US Open Series events. He notably upset No. 14 Kevin Anderson at the Citi Open en route to the quarterfinals.[38][39] Zverev's brief rankings drop in July meant that he needed to qualify for the 2015 US Open. He succeeded, but lost his opening round match to compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber in five sets.[40] Zverev won just one more main draw match the rest of the season and ended the year ranked No. 83 in the world.[41][31] As the youngest player in the top 100, he was named the ATP Newcomer of the Year.[42]

2016: First ATP title, Federer upset, top 20Edit

Zverev at the 2016 US Open

Zverev's first ATP event of the year was the Australian Open, where he had a difficult draw against world No. 2 Andy Murray and was only able to win six games in his opening match.[43] He bounced back at the Open Sud de France, reaching the semifinals in the singles event and his second career final with his brother in the doubles event.[44] During the singles event, he upset No. 13 Marin Čilić, the highest ranked player he had defeated in an official match at the time.[45] Zverev then produced a strong result at the Indian Wells Masters, where he defeated two top 30 players. In the fourth round, he nearly upset No. 5 Rafael Nadal. Zverev had a match point while he was serving for the final set, but missed a routine forehand volley and then proceeded to lose 14 of the remaining 15 points in the match. He commented on the match point that, "I missed probably the easiest shot I had the whole match."[46] Back in Europe, Zverev was able to recover as he reached his first ATP singles final at the Open de Nice Côte d'Azur, finishing runner-up to No. 15 Dominic Thiem, the top seed and the defending champion.[47] Thiem would also defeat him in the third round of the French Open.[48]

"I haven't really grasped it yet. That I would be standing here as a winner, I couldn't have imagined it yesterday... It’s unbelievable to get a win against Roger, especially on grass."

—Zverev on his victory against Federer at the Halle Open.[49][50]

Zverev's next breakthrough came during the grass court season at the Halle Open, where he upset world No. 3 Roger Federer in the semifinals, ending Federer's streak of ten consecutive appearances in the final while competing at the tournament.[50] He was also the first teenager to defeat Federer since Murray nearly a decade earlier.[49] Nonetheless, he finished runner-up at the event to veteran compatriot Florian Mayer.[51] After this final, he entered the top 30 for the first time and stayed ranked in the 20s for the rest of the season.[31] Despite being seeded at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, Zverev could then only match his best Grand Slam singles result at Wimbledon, again falling to Berdych.[52] During the US Open Series, he reached the semifinals of the Washington Open,[53] but lost his opening round matches at both Masters events. He was then upset in the second round of the US Open by Dan Evans.[54]

After the US Open, Zverev returned to Europe and won his first career ATP title at the St. Petersburg Open. He recorded his first win over No. 9 Berdych in the semifinals and defeated No. 3 Stan Wawrinka in the final, coming back from 0–3 down in the third set.[55] At his next event, he then defeated No. 10 Thiem in the first round of the 2016 China Open for the first time in four tries this year. In doing so, he became the first teenager to record three consecutive victories against top ten opponents since Boris Becker in 1986.[56][57] Zverev's third round appearance at the Shanghai Masters then helped him rise to No. 20 in the ATP rankings, making him the youngest player to debut in the top 20 since Novak Djokovic in 2006.[58]

2017: Two Masters titles, world No. 3Edit

Zverev at the 2017 Washington Open

During the 2017 season, Zverev greatly improved his results at the higher level tournaments on the ATP Tour except for the Grand Slam events. At the Australian Open, Zverev again pushed Rafael Nadal to the brink, but ultimately lost in five sets.[59] His next ATP tournament was the Open Sud de France, where he won both the singles and doubles events. He and his brother defeated Fabrice Martin and Daniel Nestor for Alexander's first doubles title.[60] The following month, he made his first Masters quarterfinal at the Miami Open, upsetting No. 3 Stan Wawrinka along the way.[61] Nick Kyrgios defeated him at both Masters events that month.[62]

After a slow start to the clay court season, Zverev won two more titles in May, the first of which came at home in Germany at the Bavarian International Tennis Championships.[63] He then followed up a second Masters quarterfinal at the Madrid Open with his first Masters title at the Rome Masters. He defeated Novak Djokovic in the final to become the youngest Masters champion since Djokovic in 2007 and the first such champion born in the 1990s. With the title, he also entered the top 10 for the first time.[64][65] Despite his triumph in Rome, he lost his opening round match at the French Open.[66] During the grass court season, Zverev made another singles final and again faced Federer at the Halle Open, but could not defeat him this time.[67] He and his brother also finished runner-up in the doubles event to Łukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo.[68] At Wimbledon, he achieved his best result at a Grand Slam event to date, ultimately losing to the previous year's runner-up Milos Raonic in a tight five set match.[69]

Back on hard courts, Zverev won his last two titles of the season in August. He won the Washington Open as well as a second consecutive Masters title at the Canadian Open, only dropping a single set at each tournament in each of his opening matches.[70] Notably, he needed to save three match points in his first match in Canada against Richard Gasquet, including a 49 shot rally.[71] He then defeated Roger Federer in the final to become the first player outside of the Big Four to win multiple Masters titles in the same season since David Nalbandian in 2007.[72][73] Despite this success, he was upset in the second round of the US Open by fellow Next Gen player Borna Ćorić.[74] At the end of the season, Zverev qualified for both the inaugural Next Generation Finals as one of the top seven 21-and-under players, and the ATP Finals as one of the top eight players in the world. He opted to skip the former event to focus on the latter.[75] At the ATP Finals, Zverev was grouped with Roger Federer, Marin Čilić, and Jack Sock. He defeated Čilić in his first match, but lost his final two matches and did not advance out of his round robin group.[76][77][78] Zverev finished the year ranked No. 4, peaking at No. 3 right before the ATP Finals, and accumulated five ATP titles from just six finals.[25][31]

2018: Tour Finals champion, first Grand Slam quarterfinalEdit

Zverev with the champion's trophy at the 2018 Washington Open

Zverev maintained his top 5 ranking throughout the year.[31] However, he still did not deliver any high-caliber results at the Grand Slam tournaments. He was upset at the Australian Open by reigning Next Gen Finals champion and No. 59 Chung Hyeon in five sets in the third round. Zverev stated that issues at majors were "definitely not physical" when asked if his problems were physical or mental, and also attribute this lack of success to the extra pressure he was putting on himself at these events.[79] Zverev did not reach his first final of the year until early April at the Miami Masters. Despite taking the first set of the final, he finished runner-up to American John Isner, who had never previously won a Masters title.[80]

Zverev continued his Masters success into the clay court season, reaching the semifinals at the Monte Carlo Masters,[81] winning his third career Masters title at the Madrid Open, and making the final at the Rome Masters. In Madrid, he defeated Dominic Thiem in the final to become the only active player outside of the Big Four to have won three Masters titles.[82] He came close to winning back-to-back Masters events, going up a break in the third set against Nadal at the Italian Open. However, Nadal was able to recover and win the final five games of the match after a rain delay.[83] Zverev had also defended his title at the Bavarian International Tennis Championships in his only other French Open tune-up to help build up a 13 match win streak that lasted until the Italian Open final.[84] He capped off his excellent clay court season by reaching his first Grand Slam quarterfinal at the French Open. He needed to win three five-set matches to get that far before Thiem ended his run while he was faced with a hamstring injury.[85]

Up until the year-end championships, Zverev struggled to build on his early season success. He lost in the third round at both Wimbledon and the US Open,[86][87] and his best result at the four remaining Masters events was a semifinal at the Shanghai Masters.[88] He was able to defend his title at the Washington Open, his only title during this period.[89] Zverev also reached two more doubles finals with his brother, but did not win either of them.[90][91] At the end of the season, Zverev qualified for both the Next Generation Finals and the ATP Finals for the second consecutive year, again choosing to only compete at the latter event. He was placed in a group with Novak Djokovic, Marin Čilić, and John Isner. This year, Zverev was able to advance out of the group, only losing to No. 1 Djokovic in the round robin.[92][93] He faced Federer in the semifinals and defeated him in straight sets to set up a rematch with Djokovic.[94] Despite being a heavy underdog and having just lost to Djokovic earlier in the week, Zverev won the final in straight sets for the tenth and biggest title of his career. He became the youngest tour champion since Djokovic a decade earlier and the first German to win the season-ending championships since Boris Becker in 1995. This was also Zverev's first victory over a current world No. 1 player.[95][96]

2019: Ups and downsEdit

Zverev at the 2019 French Open

Zverev opened his 2019 season with a fourth round appearance at the Australian Open, defeating Jérémy Chardy in five sets in the second round before losing to Milos Raonic in straight sets.[97][98] Zverev next played at the Mexican Open and finished runner-up to Nick Kyrgios.[99] Following this tournament, he did not win more than one match at any of his next five events.[25] He broke his slump by advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open, by beating David Ferrer and Hubert Hurkacz. In the quarterfinals, Zverev lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas.[100] In Rome Zverev lost to Matteo Berrettini in second round.[101] Zverev won his first 2019 title in Geneva, defeating Nicolás Jarry in the final after saving two match points.[102] He went on to defeat Fabio Fognini and reach his second consecutive quarterfinal at the French Open, where he was stopped by Novak Djokovic in straight sets.

As the top seed at the Stuttgart Open, Zverev was upset in three sets by Dustin Brown in the first round. He was seeded second at the Halle Open, reaching the quarterfinals when he lost to David Goffin. At Wimbledon, he was upset in the first round by Jiří Veselý; this was Zverev's first first-round loss at a major tournament since 2017. At the German Open, he reached the semifinals, losing to defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili. Zverev was the defending champion in Washington, but chose not to defend his title. At the Rogers Cup, he was defeated by sixth seed Karen Khachanov in the quarterfinals. He was then upset by Miomir Kecmanović in the first round of the Cincinnati Masters.

Seeded sixth at the US Open, Zverev defeated Radu Albot, Frances Tiafoe, and Aljaž Bedene to reach the fourth round at the tournament for the first time. There, he lost to 20th seeded Diego Schwartzman in four sets. At the China Open he beat Francis Tiafoe, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Sam Querrey in straight sets before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in two close sets. At Shanghai Masters, Zverev reached final of the tournament, but lost to Daniil Medvedev in straight sets.[103]

Team competitionsEdit

2016: Davis Cup debutEdit

Zverev began his season representing Germany at the Hopman Cup with Sabine Lisicki. The duo won their tie against the French team, with Zverev winning both his singles and mixed doubles matches.[104] However, they were shut out against Great Britain and Australia Green and did not advance to the final.[105][106] Zverev also represented Germany against the Czech Republic at the Davis Cup the following month. He faced No. 7 Tomáš Berdych in his debut match and took a two sets to one lead before ultimately losing in five sets.[107] After the Czech Republic won the doubles rubber while Kohlschreiber won both singles matches, Zverev faced Lukáš Rosol in a decisive fifth rubber. Rosol won the match easily to send the Czech Republic into the next round.[108]

2017: Inaugural Laver CupEdit

Zverev again began the year at the Hopman Cup, this time playing alongside Andrea Petkovic. While the pair only won their tie against Great Britain, Zverev also defeated Federer in singles in his first tournament back from injury.[109] In the Davis Cup against Belgium, he recorded his first career match win in the competition against Arthur De Greef, but lost the doubles rubber with his brother as well as his second singles match to Steve Darcis. Belgium won the tie 4–1.[110] Late in the season, Zverev took part in the inaugural Laver Cup. He accrued four points by winning both of his singles matches for Team Europe as they defeated Team World 15–9.[111]

2018: Hopman Cup finalEdit

Zverev started the season at the Hopman Cup for the third consecutive year, this time competing alongside Angelique Kerber, his third different partner at the event. For the first time, he was able to advance to the final, primarily on the strength of the pair winning all three of their mixed doubles matches.[112] In the final against Switzerland, Zverev lost his singles match to Federer.[113] Although Kerber won her singles match against Belinda Bencic, they lost the decisive mixed doubles rubber.[114] Later in the year, Zverev won his first Davis Cup tie, winning both of his singles matches against Alex de Minaur and Kyrgios to lead Germany to a 3–1 victory over Australia.[115] In the quarterfinals, Germany took a 2–1 lead against Spain behind Zverev's win over David Ferrer and a victory in doubles. However, Spain ultimately won the tie on the final day after Zverev was unable to defeat Nadal and Kohlschreiber lost a tight five-set match to Ferrer.[116] Zverev also participated in the Laver Cup and won the clinching match for Team Europe against Kevin Anderson.[117]

2019: Second Hopman Cup finalEdit

Zverev and Kerber returned to the Hopman Cup and again reached the final to set up a rematch of the previous year's final with Federer and Bencic. In a round robin group with Australia, France, and Spain, the two of them won all six of their singles matches, but lost two of their three mixed doubles matches against Australia and France.[118] Like the previous year, the final was decided by the mixed doubles match after Federer defeated Zverev and Kerber defeated Bencic. With the Fast4 format, the match went to three sets. In the third set tiebreak, both teams had a match point at 4–4. Switzerland won the point with Federer serving to win the title.[119] Zverev again won the decisive match at the Laver Cup.

Playing styleEdit

Zverev hitting a forehand

Zverev is an aggressive baseliner. He often stands far back behind the baseline and aims to hit powerful groundstrokes either for winners or to wear down his opponent. Although his height slows him down on the court, it also adds to his reach and gives him the ability to get more balls back in play. Novak Djokovic has commented that "he moves well for his height."[8] Zverev can generate a lot of power with both his backhand and forehand. His backhand in particular is regarded as his strength and one of the best in the game.[9] Zverev uses a semi-open stance and employs a western grip when hitting forehands. He has a continental-eastern grip on his backhand. He can also hit slice backhands that require a low center of gravity, in spite of his height.[120]

With Zverev's height of 1.98 metres (6 ft 6 in), he can generate big serves at 220 kilometres per hour (140 mph) or faster at sharper angles than shorter players.[9] The year Zverev first broke into the top 20, he was still not one of the better servers on tour, ranking just 38th in serve rating, a statistic that combines six basic serving statistics: 1st serve percentage, 1st serve percentage points won, 2nd serve percentage points won, service games won percentage, aces, and double faults. This was well behind him ranking 18th in return rating, showing that his return game was much stronger than his serving.[121] By 2018, he had improved in both categories, ranking 19th in serve rating and 8th in return rating. Zverev excels in particular at hitting a high percentage of first serves in, landing 64.2% in 2018. In his return game, he had the fifth highest percentage of first serve points won that year at 32.4%.[122][123]

Zverev serving

Zverev is an all-court player and does not aim to be better on any surface in particular. He has said, "I feel like I can play on all surfaces. I’ve been to two finals or won tournaments on every single surface. I don’t feel like I have to focus on one... I feel like I have good chances at all of them."[124] Toni Nadal, the uncle and coach of Rafael Nadal, has praised his ability on hard courts in particular, saying, "His best surface is, in my eyes, the hard court, because he moves better than he does on clay."[125] Six of Zverev's first ten titles came on hard courts, while the other four were on clay. As of the end of 2018, he has yet to win a title on grass, but has reached two finals and also defeated Federer on that surface.[25][49]

Zverev has the ability to serve-and-volley as well. His older brother Mischa is regarded as the biggest proponent of this playing style on the modern tour.[126] Although Sascha does not employ this technique as often as his brother, he has shown it can be effective in big matches such as the Madrid Masters final against Dominic Thiem, a player who rarely comes to the net.[127] Zverev's volleying technique is regarded as one of his biggest weaknesses.[11]

Zverev was tall, but skinny and not very muscular when growing up.[11] His fitness trainer Jez Green has focused on making him stronger and set a goal for him to add 4 kilograms (8.8 lb) of muscle each year. Initially, Zverev had difficulty adjusting to this training style on the court, saying, "I had no idea what was going on in my body," and needed to adapt his shot technique as he became more muscular. Eventually, he showed improvement on the court. Green remarked, "He started to become less wobbly. He started to absorb power, so when someone hit hard he could hit the ball back and everything locked into place."[9]

Coaching teamEdit

Zverev has been coached by his parents since he was very young. His mother was initially his primary coach before his father took over at some point.[9] Zverev made the decision to hire former world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero at the Washington Open in the summer of 2017.[128] He fired Ferrero following the Australian Open after Ferrero criticized the rest of Zverev's coaching team.[129] Ivan Lendl, another former world No. 1, joined Zverev's team in August 2018.[130] They split up in July 2019 due to disappointing results and personal differences. Zverev has stated that Lendl was more interested in his dog or his golf game than in professional coaching.[131]

The rest of Zverev's coaching team includes fitness trainer Jez Green, who previously worked with Andy Murray, and physio Hugo Gravil. Green has worked with Zverev since 2013.[128][9]

Personal lifeEdit

Sascha (left) with his older brother Mischa (right) in 2013

Zverev lives in Monte Carlo, Monaco.[128] When he was growing up, he lived in Hamburg. He also has spent his winters living in Florida at the Saddlebrook academy since he was 12 years old.[10][9] As a result of his parents' background and living in different countries, he can speak German, Russian, and English.[132]

With his older brother competing on the ITF Junior Circuit and later on the ATP Tour, Zverev had frequent opportunities to meet or train with professional tennis players as a child. He took a photograph with Roger Federer at the Hamburg Masters when he was five years old. Zverev recalled the encounter, saying, "So I got his autograph and he said, 'Well, maybe if you work hard, one day we might play against each other somewhere.'"[9] He had also met Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic when he was four years old. He has said, "They actually tell me the first time they met me, because I can’t remember. They say, 'Oh, I remember that junior tournament in Italy. We played, like, mini tennis with you.'"[9] His father remembers many instances where Sascha practiced with ATP professionals, giving one example as, "We went to Dusseldorf for World Team Cup. Mischa was in a team, and I remember Gilles Simon was waiting for other players to join him. I say, 'Gilles, can you play with Sascha for 20 minutes?' It was normal."[11]

Zverev's tennis idol is Roger Federer. He has said Federer is the only player that has made him feel starstruck.[11] When Zverev defeated Federer to win his second career Masters title at the 2017 Canadian Open, he said, "This one against Roger is something so special for me because he was always a great idol growing up for me. The greatest player of all time, beating him in a final, not just any final but in the final of a Masters 1000, is amazing."[133]

Zverev plays other sports in his spare time such as basketball and golf. He is a fan of the Miami Heat in the National Basketball Association (NBA).[10] Zverev's best friend on the tour is Brazilian doubles specialist Marcelo Melo, a former French Open and Wimbledon champion. Melo frequently appears in Zverev's box during matches, including at the 2017 Washington Open and the 2018 ATP Finals, both of which he won.[134][135][136]

Career statisticsEdit

Grand Slam tournament performance timelineEdit

(W) Won; (F) finalist; (SF) semifinalist; (QF) quarterfinalist; (#R) rounds 4, 3, 2, 1; (RR) round-robin stage; (Q#) qualification round; (A) absent; (NH) not held. SR=strike rate (events won/competed)
To avoid confusion and double counting, these charts are updated at the conclusion of a tournament or when the player's participation has ended.

Current through the 2019 Shanghai Masters.

Tournament 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 SR W–L Win %
Australian Open A A Q1 1R 3R 3R 4R 0 / 4 7–4 64%
French Open A A Q2 3R 1R QF QF 0 / 4 10–4 71%
Wimbledon A A 2R 3R 4R 3R 1R 0 / 5 8–5 62%
US Open A Q2 1R 2R 2R 3R 4R 0 / 5 7–5 58%
Win–Loss 0–0 0–0 1–2 5–4 6–4 10–4 10–4 0 / 18 32–18 64%

Source: ITF profile[25]

Year-end championshipEdit

Singles: 1 (1 title)Edit

Result Year Tournament Surface Opponent Score
Win 2018 ATP Finals, London Hard (i)   Novak Djokovic 6–4, 6–3


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External linksEdit