What next for Zverev?
Originally published on 24/05/17 00:00
Zverev announced his arrival on the world stage with a nerveless display to defeat Novak Djokovic on Sunday and claim his maiden Masters title at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia. The 20-year-old is the first player born in the 1990s to capture a Masters trophy and he is the youngest winner of a blue-ribbon event since Djokovic tasted victory at the Miami Open in 2007.
Zverev, who entered the top 10 for the first time on Monday, has been propelled further into the media spotlight after his breakthrough success in Rome, but he is unlikely to be sidetracked in his inexorable quest to become the next dominant force in the sport.
In the modern game, to contend for the biggest prizes a player must have significant firepower, and Zverev is laden with heavy artillery. He possesses a thunderous serve, a meaty forehand and a wondrous backhand, but perhaps his greatest asset is his strength of character.
The 6'6" German has already shown in his short career that he is a born-winner. His ability to deliver under pressure is exceptional and his unwavering self-belief will only assist his cause as he bids for further glory in the months and years ahead.
Zverev has made significant progress in 2017 however he is far from the finished article. He is currently ranked a lowly 29th in the return games won category and he will need to improve his efficiency in the forecourt if he wishes to become a more rounded performer.
Since Juan Martin Del Potro and his ferocious forehand burst onto the scene in 2008, there has been a dearth of young talent. Many analysts have suggested that the physical nature of the modern game is primarily why the youth have struggled to prosper, but Zverev’s recent success throws doubt on this assumption.
The German should be a source of inspiration for other young players. He has shown his peers what can be achieved and it will be fascinating to see if the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Borna Coric and Hyeon Chung can follow his example.
The next step for Zverev is to make an impact at a Grand Slam. He has yet to go beyond the third round of a major and he will now be expected to make the second week of Roland Garros.
Despite his productive week in Rome, clay remains the German’s weakest surface and he may have to wait until Wimbledon or the US Open to show just why he appears destined to become a multiple Grand Slam champion.