Alex Zverev’s breakthrough – and where he goes from here

Alex Zverev had four first-round wins at the 2017 ATP Finals. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

So close … close enough, according to the ATP rankings. Alex Zverev’s results in 2017 helped push the 20-year-old right up to a career-high seventh in the rankings, but on the face of it, his early-year surge was less significant than it could have been. At his third final appearance in the first four weeks of the season, he claimed the $2.3 million prize money to claim a first-round win at Wimbledon in the middle of the season. It was just his second win at a major, but he certainly helped his stock with a performance that showed he’s no longer a kid on the upswing, but with all the talent, potential and talent in the world to be with one.

Zverev’s run to the final of the $2.3 million ATP Finals event in London was more important, certainly to him than it was to other tennis players outside of the game’s biggest names. The winner gets at least $1.3 million — the biggest purse of the season — and was the top player in the world behind Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

At 23, Zverev also represents the youngest finalist since Pete Sampras in 1995. He’s got so much potential, and finally the question is what comes next: Is he set to one day win a grand slam?

“I’m not thinking about it too much now,” Zverev said. “It’s a long time until the next one happens, so I can’t wait for it.

“But I believe in my own abilities. I believe I can win a Grand Slam someday.”

Dramatic week for 20-year-old @alexzverev. Grand Slam or semifinal? Whichever way you want to go, look out. 🇬🇧 — Sky Sports Tennis (@SkySportsTennis) November 12, 2017

Zverev is the first player from Germany since Philipp Kohlschreiber in 2010 to finish top-10 in the rankings after clinching a major title in a non-World Cup year. Zverev’s career-high after Wimbledon was ninth at the end of last season. The success at the end of 2017 has only elevated his hopes for the future, though history says that will be tough.

Since 1990, just four players have gotten into a Grand Slam final in their 20s: Andre Agassi (2000, 2001, 2003), Marat Safin (2002, 2003) and Tomas Berdych (2012). Only one of those fell short: Agassi, who collapsed on the hard court at Flushing Meadows in 2008. Agassi’s struggles were reflected in the rankings, where he slid down to 32nd in December after his ninth loss in 11 Grand Slams.

Only three other players have been No. 7 in the world and made it to a slam final: Pete Sampras, Carlos Moya and Michael Chang.

“I love playing in the big tournaments,” Zverev said. “When I get to the Slams, I feel like I really like it. I enjoy it more and more.

“I can only hope that I can play well and have the chance to do that again next year.”

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