Alexander Zverev arrives at Rogers Cup bolstered by a spectacular 2017 season in which he has won four titles, including the Masters 1000 in Rome, and played in one other final.
The world no.8 and 4th seed this week in Montréal claimed the crown in Washington just a few days go. He continues to impress and surprise the tennis world, even though he himself has always been confident in his abilities.
“I think ‘surprised’ is the wrong word,” he explained. “I know how much I’ve done in the off-season. I know how much work I’ve put in with my whole team. Obviously the Rome title was a big one. I didn’t expect it. You know, I knew that I could beat the best players in the world and I’ve shown that over several weeks this year.”
The German earned his best Grand Slam results at Wimbledon in July, falling to Canadian Milos Raonic in the round of 16 at the end of five tough sets.
“It was a great match. I think I had a few very tough five-setters this year, against Nadal in Australia and against Milos at Wimbledon,” said Zverev. “Against Milos, I felt like I really could have won that match. I had, I don’t know, 17, 18 breakpoints but only used three. That was a tough loss for me because I really felt like I could do so well at Wimbledon. For most of the match, I felt like I was playing better and I had more chances.”
Earlier in the season, he had managed to overpower Raonic in the quarterfinals in Rome and gotten the better of a number of higher ranked players, including Novak Djokovic and Kei Nishikori. For many, Zverev could very well be the next no.1.
“I’ve said it many times before: I try not to listen to it too much,” he responded. “I have my team around me. I have important people around me who I listen to. This is a very small group of guys. But it’s always nice to hear from Roger or Rafa, that they think I could become the world no. 1. They know what it takes.”
Last week, Rogers Cup tournament director Eugène Lapierre declared that generations would collide with Nadal and Federer seeded first and second and Dominic Thiem and Zverev seeded third and fourth.
Zverev liked the analogy and agrees: “I think there are interesting times in tennis right now and ahead with a lot guys still playing at the highest level and us coming through. Dominic and I, we’re no. 7 and no.8 in the world. We’re doing well this season. Roger and Rafa will most likely finish no. 1 and no. 2 in the world. But, I mean, if we get to the semifinals and I play Rafa and Dominic plays Roger, they’re going to be interesting matchups. We’ll see which generation wins.”