ATP Tour

Rising Zverev seeks six of the best in Beijing

2017-10-01 13:53
Alexander Zverev (AP)

Beijing - Rising star Alexander Zverev on Sunday said that he is blocking out the growing hype surrounding his fast emergence, as he makes his tilt at China Open glory this week.

The 20-year-old German is seeking his sixth title of a breakthrough season and with the old guard of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray all missing in Beijing, Zverev fancies his chances.

The second seed starts his assault on the open-air hard courts in the Chinese capital against Britain's Kyle Edmund and could face seventh seed Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals.

The Australian Nick Kyrgios, who on his day can compete with the best, is a potential semi-final opponent, with world number one Rafael Nadal looming in the final if the Spaniard successfully navigates his tricky side of the draw.

Zverev, the world number four, said his aim for next season is to go further in the Grand Slams - his best showing is reaching the fourth round this year at Wimbledon.

But he is prepared to bide his time.

"I'm still only 20 years old, you can't have it all, unfortunately, but it's not going bad," he said.

Asked about the pressure that comes with his growing fame, he replied: "I've been dealing with expectations from a very young age so I've learnt how to deal with them.

"But it gets more and more the higher you are ranked, but look, I try not to listen too much to what other people expect from me or think of me.

"I do care about the people that are close to me, my team and my family, but everyone else I try not to focus on too much.

"Of course it's nice to hear from great players what they think I might become one day, but this is still in the future and it's a work in progress."

Nadal, the 31-year-old Spaniard who is enjoying a late-career resurgence, is in action this week for the first time since winning his third US Open in September.

The top seed starts with a shot at revenge against Frenchman Lucas Pouille, who knocked him out of last year's US Open the last time they met.

In the women's draw, former number one Maria Sharapova survived a major scare on Saturday in the first round in a three-hour, three-set thriller with the 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova.

The Russian five-time Grand Slam winner, on the comeback trail after 15 months out for a drug ban, saw off a match point before squeezing through 7-6 (7/3), 5-7, 7-6 (9/7).

In a strong field, top seed and world number one Garbine Muguruza opens her China Open against the Czech Barbora Strycova.

No player has been able to claim a monopoly on world number one and the latest incumbent comes into the tournament with major doubts about her fitness.

The Spaniard wore heavy strapping on her left thigh as she lost in the Wuhan Open quarter-finals to Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko on Thursday.

Muguruza, the Wimbledon winner who surged to number one last month, hinted on Sunday that she was not fully fit.

"I'm trying to recover as best I can from the Wuhan Open," said the 23-year-old, during a downbeat press conference that lasted just two-and-a-half minutes.

"We already had a couple of days, so hopefully I'm prepared."

 

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