Zverev declared his professional status in 2013; however, I saw him play for the first time in 2014. While I cannot put my finger on exactly what made me continue to watch that match, I realized instinctively that he had that “something special”. It was a combination of raw talent and steely determination and in someone so young, it was rare in this era of tennis. To be a great tennis player, you need to have talent, determination, be mentally strong and finally you need to be physically fit. Gone are the days when young players dominate the upper echelon of tennis. Today with the evolution of tennis racquets and the variety of strings available, it takes a lot for a young player to stand out and Sascha stood out.
At the end of 2013, he was ranked 809; a year later, Zverev had rocketed up the rankings to 136. Now the real test began for the young German, play consistent tennis to impact his ranking positively. 2015 was a rocky year for the youngster; however, he continued to make progress and ended the year at number 83.
2016 was the year he began to put the pieces together. He made four semifinals and three finals. He won his first career singles title in his third final (St. Petersburg Open), defeating two top ten players en route to the title. Suddenly people began to realize he was not just another tennis player and now he was being noticed. No longer could he play in obscurity, the pressure of expectation was now something he had to contend with. It takes a lot to be a great tennis player and in addition to the traits mentioned above, being a great tennis player requires that you are able to embrace the “pressure of expectations”. It is a burden that many have found difficult to cope with and those who have learned to handle it with grace have found the key to maximizing their potential to achieve the ultimate goal.
How will Sascha embrace the pressure? He seems to be doing a fairly good job so far at this age and will probably get better as time progresses. However, he has to find that balance. He is still improving his fitness and once that is optimized I think he will have more endurance, which will allow him to start getting better results in the majors.
Zverev made it to six finals in 2017 and won five titles, two of which were Masters 1000 (Coupe Rogers and Internazionali BNL d’Italia). His results have tailed off a bit at the end of the season; however, it’s understandable given the demands his young body has endured in this highly productive year. He led the race to Milan and has also qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals in London. Sascha Zverev is currently ranked number three.
How will the young phenom end his 2017 season? I hope he will end it with a bang.
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