2018 season snapshot: Alexander Zverev

Published by Matt Trollope

On the stretch: Alexander Zverev reaches for a backhand at the O2 Arena in London, where he won the biggest title of his career at the ATP Finals (Getty Images)
World No.4 Alexander Zverev: Finished No.4 for the second year running, biggest career title at the ATP Finals.

On court

It was an impressive year of consolidation for the 21-year-old, who for the second straight year finished the season at world No.4. While Grand Slam success continued to elude him, he enjoyed something of a breakthrough at Roland Garros with a run to his first major quarterfinal and elsewhere won titles at every level – including the biggest of his career at the ATP Finals to cap the season on a brilliant note.

He added a third Masters title to his collection (in Madrid) as well as defending his 500-level title in Washington DC and 250-level title in Munich. With his success on clay, hard courts and indoors, Zverev played 77 matches in 2018, more than any other player – even renowned workhorse Dominic Thiem. And despite being criticised for apparent struggles in the five-set format, the German played (seven) and won (five) more five-set matches than any other player on tour this year.

Zverev added the great Ivan Lendl to his coaching set-up prior to the US Open and appeared to be playing more aggressively than ever towards the end of the season; he was practically impenetrable on serve at the ATP Finals and was hitting his forehand with more heaviness and bite. Will it translate to Grand Slam success next year? “I’m going to do everything I can to prepare myself,” he said. “I’m going to work really hard, I’m going to do a lot of stuff in the off-season and then we’ll see what 2019 brings.”.

Stats

After 77 matches played in 2018, Zverev was:

  • No.1 in match wins on tour (58 wins, to 19 losses)
  • No.1 in five-set matches played (7) and won (5)
  • =No.1 in Masters 1000 matches won (21, tied with Djokovic)
  • =No.2 in titles won (4) and clay-court winning percentage (84%)
  • No.3 in top-10 wins (beat eight top-10 opponents)
  • No.5 in overall match-win percentage (75.3%)

Quotes

“He (Federer) said some encouraging things. He told me a story about how he never made it past quarters until he was, what, 23 years old or something like that. So I still have a little bit of time. Hearing that from the greatest player of all time is comforting, because you always think, ‘Oh, if I’m not going to win this one, I’m never going to win one.’ Just hearing that, just knowing that it’s all okay, it’s not the end of the world.”
– revealing at Roland Garros some words of wisdom from Roger Federer (that fortnight, Zverev would go on to reach his first major quarterfinal).

“I think the match was absolutely pathetic on all levels. I mean, I’m very honest with you guys. I always say when the opponent play better. I’m probably one of the most honest guys on tour. Today was a pathetic match from – I don’t even think he played well.”
– after losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round in Toronto

“Those are very deep questions right now. I just can’t be really bothered to answer them (smiling). I don’t know … we still got multiple and multiple years for all of us ahead. A lot of things can happen. A lot of things can change.”
– when asked how he felt about “being viewed as leading the future of tennis”

Off court

Despite being 14 years younger, Zverev shares a close friendship with Brazilian doubles star Marcelo Melo. The pair are almost inseparable – they recently holidayed together during the off-season in the Maldives – and they often share snaps of their escapades on their social media channels.

Perhaps the cutest constant in Zverev’s close-knit team is dog Lövik, a poodle who regularly accompanies the Zverev family on tour. Lövik emerged from a bag carried by Zverev’s mother Irina at the ATP Finals to congratulate Sascha on his victory over Djokovic in the final. If you’re interested, Lövik has his own Instagram page.

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