Germany’s Alexander Zverev occupies rarified territory in the men’s game. The 20-year-old is considered a rising star, one of the most promising of the #NextGen group emerging in the game. Yet, at the same time, he’s established himself as one of the sport’s best players. Period.
Zverev is currently at No. 8 in the world, thriving in just his fourth professional season and achieving milestones that far more experienced players have yet to attain. He became the youngest ATP Masters 1000 champion in a decade when he stormed to the title in Rome, one of four trophies he’s hoisted in 2017 on a variety of surfaces. His most recent – on the hard courts of Washington, D.C. – catapulted him into fourth place in the race to the ATP Finals.
The rangy Zverev, measuring 6-foot-6, is now targeting a Grand Slam breakthrough; his best result at a major was a trip to the fourth round at the most recent Wimbledon, where he fell to Milos Raonic in five sets.
While he still has a way to go to challenge the very best in the game over five sets, his many weapons – including a damaging serve and fearsome ground strokes – will stand him in good stead when he arrives at Flushing Meadows.
He chatted with USOpen.org during his winning week in Washington, D.C.
USOpen.org: You've won four titles in 2017 and cracked the Top 10. What's been working well for you in this incredible season?
Alexander Zverev: I had a lot of success, in big tournaments, as well – won Masters Series in Rome – so a lot of things are coming together. I've done a lot of hard work in the off-season. A lot of physical work, a lot of work on my serve and on my return game. I'm happy the way the season is going so far.
USOpen.org: Let's focus on your Rome win. It's been very rare in the last few years for a player outside the Big Four to win an ATP Masters title. Can you reflect on what that achievement means to you, especially given the history and prestige of that tournament?
Zverev: I think I'm the first 1990-born guy to win a Masters 1000, so it's quite special to be the first one in a very strong group of guys. There are a lot of guys playing great, and hopefully there are going to be a lot more coming.
USOpen.org: You took Rafa to five sets in the third round at the Australian Open and Raonic to five in the last 16 at Wimbledon. You're playing the top players very close on the biggest stages. What's the next step you need to take to start beating them over five sets?
Zverev: Winning one of those big matches. I beat them in three sets, a lot of them, so I know how to do it. But in five sets, obviously, it's a little bit different still, but hopefully I can overcome that. Maybe at the US Open.
USOpen.org: You're in the unusual situation of perhaps qualifying for both the ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan and the ATP Finals in London. Have you thought about this? And what will you do if it happens?
Zverev: Hopefully (play) both. I'll play a few matches in Milan – I don't know if I'll play the full event because we have to be in London by rule on Thursday (before the tournament), if they allow me to play. ... But London is obviously a big goal for me, and I'm very happy I've put my myself in a position to maybe qualify for that.
USOpen.org: Your brother Mischa is also enjoying a great season, and both of you have been seeded at Grand Slams recently. How happy is the mood in the Zverev family house right now?
Zverev: We are obviously having the seasons of our life, both of us. Hopefully there are going to be a lot more great seasons to come. Hopefully he can still improve, hopefully I can still improve, and we'll see how far we can both go.
USOpen.org: How has the experience been, working with Juan Carlos Ferrero for this U.S. hard-court season?
Zverev: So far it's been good. It's only been one week so far, or 10 days (at the time of this interview). So hopefully this can be a long-lasting relationship. There are no changes made to our team. He is just somebody who we extended (our team to include) as a coaching guy. But, obviously, my dad will always be there and always stay in the coaching box.