Tennis

Young Ones ready to replace Young Once

After 'astonishing' win over Djokovic, Zverev hints of usurping tennis' Big Four

Germany's Alexander Zverev described his ATP Finals title as "astonishing" yesterday morning (Singapore time), after beating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in consecutive days without losing a set.

Just as against Swiss 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer in Saturday's semi-final, the 21-year-old produced a dashing display of power and guile to stun the in-form Djokovic 6-4, 6-3.

Not only did he become the youngest winner of the title since Djokovic 10 years ago, and the first German to triumph since Boris Becker in 1995, Zverev also became only the fourth player to beat Federer and Djokovic back-to-back in the semi-final and final of the same tournament.

Rafael Nadal has managed it three times, Andy Murray once and David Nalbandian is the other.

"Obviously, it's quite astonishing, winning this title, beating two such players back-to-back, Roger and Novak, in semi-finals and finals. (It) Means so much," Zverev told reporters.

"I'm incredibly happy and incredibly proud right now."

Zverev said a crop of top young players was on the march, desperate to end the stranglehold on the sport held by Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray in recent years.

The only three players who have beaten Djokovic since Wimbledon started - including Zverev - are all part of the new generation.

"Us young guys, we're coming through," said the German. "(Karen) Khachanov winning the Masters in Paris was a big thing. I was very happy for him, as well.

"I wasn't happy that he beat me, but I was happy for the victory that he had because I'm quite good friends with him.

Us young guys, we're coming through.(Karen) Khachanov winning the Masters in Paris was a big thing. Alexander Zverev on the Young Ones like himself making breakthroughs

"The victory for (Stefanos) Tsitsipas in Toronto, I felt like Novak wasn't playing his best there, but obviously all the credit to Tsitsipas.

"You have to beat someone like Novak because he's not going to give you the match."

Djokovic said Zverev's win could have deeper significance for the men's game.

"There's a lot of similarities in terms of trajectory of professional tennis, in our careers," said the world No. 1.

"Hopefully, he can surpass me. I mean, I sincerely wish him that. He deserves everything he gets so far.

"There's a lot of time ahead of him. Wish him to stay healthy and obviously win a lot of titles."

Zverev, coached by Ivan Lendl, parried a question about how he felt about being viewed by many as leading the future of tennis.

"It's great, but the future, we still got multiple and multiple years for all of us ahead," he said. "A lot of things can happen. A lot of things can change.

"I'll do everything I can to be on top. But the other guys are playing great tennis as well.

"Hopefully next year I'll be able to play better tennis than I did this year, even though it's been a good year." - REUTERS, AFP

Tennis