Alexander Zverev is a German professional tennis player. He is the second-youngest player ranked in the top 10 by the Association of Tennis Professionals, and was a permanent fixture in the top 5 throughout 2018.
Zverev was the champion at the 2018 ATP Finals, which had made him the youngest winner at the year-end championship in a decade.
He is the only active player outside of the Big Four with three ATP Masters 1000 titles. Zverev has been praised by members of the Big Four as one of their potential successors.
Rafael Nadal has called him a “clear possible future No. 1,” while Novak Djokovic has said, “Hopefully, he can surpass me.” Zverev has won 11 ATP titles in singles and two in doubles.
Zverev is a former world No. 1 junior, and won a junior Grand Slam singles title at the 2014 Australian Open.
He had an early breakthrough on the professional tour as well, becoming one of the youngest Challenger title winners in history at the age of 17.
As a teenager, Zverev won two ATP titles and also upset then world No. 3 Roger Federer on grass. At 20 years old, he was the youngest player to debut in the top 20 since Djokovic.
- Full name: Alexander “Sascha” Zverev
- Profession: German tennis player
- Born: 20 April 1997 (age 22 years), Hamburg, Germany
- Height: 1.98 m
- Prize money: US$21,012,015: 24th all-time in earnings;
- Coach: Alexander Zverev Sr.
- Australian Open: SF (2020)
- US Open: 4R (2019)
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About Alexander Zverev
Alexander was born on 20 April 1997 in Hamburg, Germany, to Irina Zvereva and Alexander Mikhailovich Zverev.
He has an older brother Mischa who was born nearly a decade earlier and is a professional tennis player as well.
Both of Sascha’s parents were professional tennis players for the Soviet Union. His father was ranked as high as No. 175 in the world.
He was also the top-ranked men’s player nationally, while his mother was the fourth-highest ranked women’s player.
They both moved from Sochi to the capital to train at the CSKA Moscow military-run tennis club. The Soviet government often restricted their players from competing outside the country, an impediment that limited how high either of Sascha’s parents could rise in the world rankings.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union imminent, Irina went to Germany to compete at a tournament in 1990, with her husband accompanying as her coach.
While in Germany, they were offered jobs as tennis instructors. After initially declining, they accepted an offer to work at the Uhlenhorster Hockey Club in Hamburg the following year and ended up settling in the country.
Sascha began playing tennis at a very young age. He has said, “One day, when I was I think one year and five months old, I just picked up a little racket, and I was starting to push the ball all over our apartment, and since then they took me out on the court. I enjoy it still, I enjoyed it back then.”
When he was five years old, he started to play tennis at least half an hour each day. Sascha was extremely competitive as a child.
His brother Mischa said, “He would not understand or accept that he was losing” when the two would play against each other.
He would never want to leave the court unless he won the match. Sascha also played hockey and football as a child, but decided to focus only on tennis around the age of 12 after an early-round loss at a high-level international junior tournament in Florida.
When Sascha was young, his mother was his primary coach while his father was focused on coaching his brother. He has said, “I think I have pretty good technique, which my mum did at a young age, so credit to her for that. My backhand, in particular, is 100 per cent down to my mum.”
While his mother had a more relaxed teaching style, his father “had a very Soviet way of doing physical training sessions” that involved doing timed drills for fixed numbers of repetitions.
Sascha’s coaches aimed for him to have a riskier, aggressive playing style built around hitting the ball with pace and finishing points quickly.
This was a big contrast from how he played around age 12 when his style centered around being an “unbelievable fighter” from the baseline in part because he was too slow to go to the net.
Initially, Sascha struggled to change his playing style. He “made a lot of errors” and lost to opponents who excelled at keeping points alive.
However, his father stuck with this strategy, saying, “We must practice fast tennis, aggressive tennis. If you lose today it’s no big deal. You must think about the future.”