Join Date: Sep 2012
2014 AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Big shoes to fill for boys' top seed
Wednesday, 22 January, 2014
By David Penrose
They say remember the name, but this particular name you might already recall.
The name is Alexander Zverev, but not the former Soviet Union Davis Cup player - rather it is his youngest son by the same name that you should keep your eye on.
The 16-year-old, commonly known as Sascha, finished 2013 as the highest-ranked junior boy in the world.
German-born after his parents relocated from Moscow in 1991, the younger Zverev has started 2014 in a strong fashion.
After reaching the second round of qualifying for the ATP event in Auckland, he claimed the title at the AGL Loy Yang Traralgon Junior International without dropping a set.
His success should come as no surprise with his family having an undeniable tennis pedigree.
Beyond his father’s career, his mother Irina was a Fed Cup representative, and since finishing their careers both have moved into the coaching ranks.
Additionally, old brother Mischa attained a career-high ranking of No.45 in 2009 before being setback by persistent injuries. He is fit now, and looking to move up the ranks after falling to 175th in the world.
But the youngest member of the family feels that the experience of his family is a benefit not a burden.
“They have all been through that, so it is good for me,” said Zverev.
As the number one junior, also comes the pressure of being touted as the next big thing.
But Zverev says he hasn't heard much talk of being a huge prospect.
“They don’t say it to my face.”
“I know I (have) got talent, but I think everybody here has talent, everybody knows how to play, everybody knows how to hit the ball,” said a philosophical Zverev.
On Tuesday the world number one junior advanced to the third round of the Australian Open boys’ singles, overcoming Japanese qualifier Ryotero Matsumura 4-6 6-2 9-7.
It wasn’t the most complete performance, but one that encapsulated the good and bad of a raw teenager.
The good, an array of powerful strokes, strong groundwork, positive advances to the net, and six aces when his serve came off.
The bad, 11 double faults, and frustration which simmered from early in the match before boiling over into a point violation as he smashed a ball out of Court 20 after falling behind 6-7 in the deciding set.
He also was facing a warrior-like opponent, with Matsumura rarely giving up on any point, in a match which extended to nearly three hours.
In the end, complete performance or not, Zverev prevailed in a marathon 80-minute final set after reeling off three consecutive games to recover from 3-5 down only to almost blow it once more.
“I don’t think the whole match went the way I expected it to go”
“It’s the second round so I’m not worried about that yet, so I hope I can come out tomorrow and play a little bit better than today,” said Zverev of his performance against the Japanese qualifier.
No matter how, Zverev now continues his Australian Open campaign, as he improves on last year’s first round effort.
Beyond that, the German’s path is an unknown, as he looks to advance from juniors and take the next step in his career.
“I don’t know how much I’ll play this year, but I’m not sure I’ll play next year at all,” said Zverev about his time playing juniors.
What he does know is that he still has plenty of work to do, especially when asked about the strongest part of his game.
“I served 13 double faults today so I can’t say its my serve, but on a good day, maybe my serve, on a good day.”
It was only 11 double faults, but one thing is for sure, at 195cm, with expansive reach and impressive power, Zverev is a player that will test his opponents for years to come.
Zverev’s next match is against Brazilian Marcelo Zormann da Silva on Wednesday.
Alexander Zverev of Germany celebrates after winning his junior boys final match against Stefan Kozlov the US at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 25 January 2014.
Alexander Zverev of Germany holds the trophy after winning his junior boys final match against Stefan Kozlov the US at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 25 January 2014.
Alexander Zverev of Germany in action against Stefan Kozlov the US during their junior boys final match at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 25 January 2014.
Alexander Zverev of Germany kisses his trophy after winning his junior boys final match against Stefan Kozlov of the US at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia, 25 January 2014.
2014 AUSTRALIAN OPEN Junior Boys final
INTERVIEW 25 Jan 2014
Q. What were the circumstances you were having to retire against Stefan at Wimbledon?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: What the circumstances was?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: I had an injured shoulder. I didn't play for two weeks after that or something like that.
Yeah, I was up in that match as well. I couldn't lift my arm anymore.
Q. When did you injury it?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: I injured it in the second round at Wimbledon, but it was fine, and I only made it worse by playing.
I just couldn't handle the pain anymore and then I had to retire.
Q. What does this title mean to you?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: It means a lot. I been waiting for a Grand Slam victory for a long time. I was finals in Paris; I was semis at the US Open. Never could make it to a victory, but now I did.
I think I played a pretty solid and a pretty good match here.
Q. You're already for a long time in Australia. You played also a preparation tournament which you won. How do you feel now?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: I feel pretty good. I'm actually staying for two more weeks here now playing those two challengers. I can't play the first one anymore in Tasmania because I can't make it to the quallies anymore. I'll stay and play the one in Adelaide.
So, yeah, I'm really looking forward to it.
Q. You also were in Brisbane?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: Yeah, yeah, I practiced in Brisbane; didn't get in there. Then I went to Auckland and played quallies there and lost to Donald Young in the second round, and then I came here.
No, I went to Traralgon first and then came here.
Q. How is your schedule for the next coming months and weeks?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: Challenger in Adelaide and go back to U.S., try to play Delray Beach, quallies; try to play Dallas challenger and then see what happens.
Q. What will you do while you wait for Adelaide?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: Actually staying here for a couple days at the National Tennis Center. The people were nice enough to say I can stay.
Yeah, I'm just going to prepare for the next week?
Q. When does that start?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: For me I think it starts Saturday. Saturday is the first round.
Q. If you compare the junior and senior matches, what's the big difference between its two circuits?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: I don't even think there is a big difference between us and maybe someone who's 100, 150 in the world. They're just way more confident on the court. Sometimes we just have too much respect for them, which is of course there is a reason for that.
They're top 100 in the world and they already made it and we're just in the beginning of our tennis career. So I mean, on a good day I think me and Stefan and of course some other guys can really play with them.
Q. How was it playing in the Rod Laver Arena? You were more nervous than normal?
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: Yeah, in the first let's say two, three games I didn't win a point on his serve, I think.
Yeah, he wasn't really nervous I thought, but I was really nervous playing in such a big arena for the first time, especially Rod Laver Arena is something else.
Playing in a Grand Slam center court is just amazing.
Q. Do you think you get rewarded because you win Grand Slam tournament maybe with wildcard, sponsors, or...
ALEXANDER ZVEREV: I mean, I just walked off the court 20 minutes ago. Nobody has talked to my about that yet. (Smiling.)