For top-ranked #NextGenATP player Alexander Zverev, his progression of firsts will always be duly noted. His first ATP World Tour title, first victory over a Top 10 opponent.
It makes reflecting upon the progression that much more intriguing when the talent in question goes on to post their first Masters 1000 title, first Grand Slam trophy or first stint at World No. 1.
A two-time Masters 1000 champion at age 20 (in Rome and Montreal) sees anticipation naturally shift to whether the BNP Paribas Open’s fourth can go on to land a major or climb to the pinnacle of the rankings. There is no hiding from it.
“Everybody keeps talking about the Grand Slams but I’ve won two Masters [1000s] so I know what it takes to win the big tournaments, what it takes to beat the big players in those big tournaments,” said Zverev, who fell to Aussie Nick Kyrgios in the third round at Indian Wells last season. “I’ve beaten Novak [Djokovic] and Roger [Federer] in both of those finals so those are not small matches for either of them.”
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Next Gen ATP Finals champion Hyeon Chung downed Zverev in five sets in the third round of the Australian Open in January. It was a surprise to some, but the German was well aware of the level his free-swinging South Korean opponent was capable of producing.
“In Australia, I thought I played well. I played against a very strong Chung,” Zverev said. “That is somebody who played with a lot of confidence and great feel. For me it’s more about getting through those matches and playing my best and the rest will take care of itself.”
An early exit in Rotterdam followed (l. to Seppi) but he found form again in Acapulco where it took eventual champion Juan Martin del Potro to stop him in the semi-finals. Despite the defeat Zverev to declared he was back playing at a confident level.
“I feel like the year has barely started,” he said. “I’ve played three tournaments so far. For me, this is where the season really starts. The first Masters , the first big ATP tournament that we have. I feel like I’m playing really good again and feel ready to play with anyone and for me that’s the most important thing coming into a big event like this.”
That first title came not so long ago, in St. Petersburg in September 2016. As for that first Top 10 win? That’s one Zverev won’t forget in a hurry.
“[It] was against Roger in Halle on a grass court so that was quite special,” he said. “The way also that I got into the Top 10 last year was also very special to me because I made it through winning a Masters  on clay which is one of the toughest ways to do it. So I remember both of those moments quite clearly and they’re very special.” . read full article