Written by By Staff Writer, CNN
Alex Zverev’s biggest achievement so far came last month, when he capped an unbeaten run of six consecutive ATP World Tour Finals victories to win the $5m prize for his best-of-five final against Novak Djokovic.
An already fast-rising star in tennis, the 19-year-old Zverev had already emerged as one of the world’s most exciting young players, having spent two seasons qualifying for the French Open and winning two matches at the prestigious ATP Challenger Tour’s clay court event in Monte Carlo this year, meaning he entered only the final of the year-end tournament in London.
His stunning performance earned him a spot in the men’s starting line-up, but you would never know he was just one of the players on the huge stage at the O2 Arena. A year after battling through the junior ranks to be in the main draw, Zverev enjoyed one of the most successful ATP runs in history, impressing the experts while he was at it.
Djokovic v Zverev
When CNN’s Richard Quest questioned Zverev’s talent after the final, a relaxed Zverev replied: “I will admit I was pretty nervous, I didn’t know what was going to happen.
“I don’t know how Novak is going to feel and my family didn’t know how he is going to feel because I was really nervous and the results are the result.”
The pair had previously played each other on the grass court of Queen’s Club earlier this year. Zverev had beaten Djokovic in the second round and was down a set when he suffered a shock defeat in the quarterfinals.
After this, Djokovic had been sporting one of the form of his career, losing only two matches in 2017, while his post-match press conference was notable for the 36 points he spent discussing Zverev, whom he felt he could beat if they met in a final.
Djokovic has a 46-15 head-to-head record over Zverev and leads 23-17 on the ATP World Tour, but the German seems poised to make history in his next five matches.
Is the French Open in his sights?
He begins his Roland Garros 2018 campaign against Czech #Djokovic at 1:30pm at Roland Garros. See https://t.co/NPLq8VP30o for details. pic.twitter.com/rV3GKez10H — Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) August 21, 2017
Wimbledon is a more difficult option for the German, with fourth-round opponent Kevin Anderson looking relatively imperious. Zverev has previously revealed his anxiety when watching the tournament, but is aiming to change that in 2018.
The second of his two-match tournaments on the clay of the French Open comes against Zverev is Germany’s Davis Cup semi-final on 5 September. Those two matches could affect whether he triumphs at the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals in London in December.
In his final match before that, Zverev plays Julien Benneteau, after the Frenchman’s win over Rafael Nadal on Sunday.
If Zverev is to achieve his dream of playing in his first grand slam final at the Australian Open in January, the next four weeks will be pivotal.
The O2 Arena
A remarkable 16 of the last 17 ATP Finals champions have gone on to win a grand slam title in the next 12 months, so one of the most important dates on Zverev’s calendar could have a big bearing on his final tally.
At 10 November, the venue that has hosted the World Tour Finals for the last five years hosts the ATP World Tour Finals between the top eight players in the world on the same court that the British Open will be contested this year.
All eyes will once again be on the roof of the O2 Arena as Rafael Nadal takes on Marin Cilic in the first semi-final.
Next up in the season-ending tournament is Andy Murray against Stan Wawrinka.
If Zverev is to join Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Nadal, Murray and Stan Wawrinka in the World Tour Finals finale, he’ll have to get past top seed Federer.
Earlier this year, the Swiss knocked out Roger Federer in a quarterfinal match at Wimbledon. Federer has won the tournament eight times, most recently in 2012.