London - Alexander Zverev won the biggest title of his
career against Novak Djokovic at the ATP Finals on Sunday, but is the new kid
on the block ready to smash the cartel at the top of the game?
The 21-year-old German has long been talked of as the leader
of a pack of hungry young tyros aiming to unseat the multiple Grand Slam
winners who have dominated the sport for well over a decade.
But so far he has flattered to deceive at the majors - with
a run to the quarter-finals at this year's French Open the only time he has
made it past the fourth round of any of the four Slams.
It is easy to underplay his success - he already has 10
titles under his belt including the ATP Finals and three Masters crowns.
And it was the manner of his win against Djokovic at
London's O2 Arena - overpowering the relentless Serb 6-4, 6-3 - that caught the
eye on Sunday, a day after he triumphed in straight sets against Roger Federer.
"This is the biggest title of my career so far,"
he said. "This trophy means a lot, everything, to all the players. I mean,
you only have so many chances of winning it. You play against the best players
only. How I played today, how I won it, for me it's just amazing."
"It's quite astonishing, winning this title, beating
two such players back-to-back, Roger and Novak, in semi-finals and
finals," he added. "Means so much. I'm incredibly happy and
incredibly proud of this moment right now."
Zverev said a crop of top young players was on the march,
desperate to end the stranglehold on the sport exerted by Djokovic, Federer,
Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray in recent years.
The only three players who have beaten Djokovic since
Wimbledon started - including Zverev - are all part of the new generation.
"Us young guys, we're coming through," said the
German. "(Karen) Khachanov winning the Masters in Paris was a big thing. I
was very happy for him, as well.
"I wasn't happy that he beat me, but I was happy for
the victory that he had because I'm quite good friends with him. The victory
for (Stefanos) Tsitsipas in Toronto, I felt like Novak wasn't playing his best
there, but obviously all the credit to Tsitsipas.
"You have to beat someone like Novak because he's not
going to give you the match."
Djokovic himself said Zverev's win could have deeper
significance for the men's game.
"There's a lot of similarities in terms of trajectory
of professional tennis, in our careers," said the world number one.
"Hopefully he can surpass me. I mean, I sincerely wish him that."
"He deserves everything he gets so far," he added.
There's a lot of time ahead of him. Wish him to stay healthy and obviously win
a lot of titles."
Zverev, coached by Ivan Lendl, parried a question about how
he felt about being viewed by many as leading the future of tennis.
"It's great, but the future, we still got multiple and
multiple years for all of us ahead," he said. "A lot of things can
happen. A lot of things can change. I'll do everything I can to be on top. But
the other guys are playing great tennis as well."
And he said the likes of Djokovic and Federer remained the
"They're still going to be the guys to beat at the big
tournaments," he said. "I will hope. I mean, I will do everything I
can to get better, to compete with them always.
"I feel like I'm doing that. But still I have a lot of
things to improve. I'm still very young. Hopefully next year I'll be able to
play better tennis than I did this year, even though it's been a good