Alexander Zverev proved his talent in London at the end of 2018, defeating Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic to win the ATP Finals. The German now faces the challenge of replicating his form a few miles down the road in SW19 to make his Grand Slam breakthrough at Wimbledon.
Zverev has produced quality results in isolation, although he has not managed to progress further than the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam in his 16 attempts. The 22-year-old has reached the last eight in his last two appearances at the French Open. However, his best performance at Wimbledon was his fourth-round berth achieved in 2017.
It would take a significant improvement for Zverev to challenge for the crown at the All England Club, although he is backed behind the big three of Djokovic, Nadal and Federer as the next best option in the Wimbledon winner odds at 18/1. The German does have the star potential, but whether he can put it all together with a surge to the latter stages of the competition is another matter given the quality of the top three players.
He was extremely underwhelming last season, failing to emerge beyond the first week of Wimbledon. Zverev’s form on the ATP Tour earned him the fourth seed for the competition, and he brushed aside James Duckworth with ease in the first round. However, American Taylor Fritz took him all the way to five sets, forcing the German to battle back to win the final two to advance to the third round. His exploits against Fritz took their toll in his next outing, resulting in a five-set defeat at the hands of Ernests Gulbis, losing the final two sets 6-3 6-0.
It was the same story at the US Open, failing to progress beyond the third round after being beaten by his compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber. Zverev put that disappointment behind him to end the year on a high note in the ATP Tour Finals. In his group, the German was defeated by Djokovic, but overcame John Isner and Marin Cilic to book his place in the semi-finals. Zverev put forward arguably the best performance of his career to beat Federer before topping that display by winning in straights sets in his revenge match against Djokovic.
The results proved that the German is more than capable of beating the elite players, although he could not carry that forward into the Australian Open. Milos Raonic saw him off with ease in the first Grand Slam of 2019 in the fourth round. He improved his performance at the French Open, earning a quarter-final berth for the second year on the bounce. The presence of Djokovic ended his charge, dumping him out in straight sets.
Zverev has impressed in short stints, but has not managed to make a strong impression over two weeks of a major competition. He has bogged down in the early rounds, which has resulted in fatigue and his eventual premature exit. The 22-year-old has to become more clinical in the early rounds of Grand Slams to prepare himself for the challenge of the big three in the latter stages. Zverev has the quality, but needs to deliver on his potential.