Zverev Powers Djokovic Off Court for Rome Title, Top 10 Debut
by Staff | May 21st, 2017, 1:52 pm
  • 31 Comments

German 20-year-old Alexander Zverev arrived Sunday — arrived into the top 10 for the first time, and as a legitimate French Open threat after roughing-up former No. 1 Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3 in the final of the Italian Open.


The surprises didn’t end there, as afterwards Djokovic announced that his new coach would be former great Andre Agassi.

Zverev, the No. 16 seed, is the youngest winner in Rome since Rafael Nadal won at age 19. He will jump from 19 to No. 10 come Monday on the ATP rankings. He is No. 1 on the ATP’s Next Gen standings for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals event for players 21-and-under, and No. 4 on the 2017-only standings in his quest to qualify for his first year-ending ATP Finals.

“I’m very happy with the way I played and my performance all week, I think today was one of the best matches I ever played,” Zverev said. “I knew I had to be aggressive from the first point to the last. It was very important for me to be able to stay this aggressive and not let him take over the game.”

Zverev broke Djokovic in the opening game of the match, dropping only nine points on serve the entire contest and giving the Serb not one sniff of a break point. Djokovic’s unimpressive slate in the face of the German onslaught was 11 winners to 27 unforced errors, while Zverev was +2 in winners to unforced errors.

It was a fourth consecutive Rome final for Djokovic (now 4-4 career in Rome finals), who fell to 1-1 in finals this year and 67-30 for his career.

“He served very well,” Djokovic surmised. “I just wasn’t able to get any rhythm on my returns. If we would get into a rally, he would smash the ball from the first or second shot. There is no doubt he took time away from me. It happens. If he serves this well and this efficiently, it’s tough to play him on any surface.

“He didn’t get much from my side. I played very poor today. Just couldn’t find any rhythm,” he added. “Conditions were completely different. Haven’t played a day match for three, four days already. Just a lot of wind and just very fast and bouncing. Yesterday was no wind and slow. I just couldn’t find the proper rhythm, proper positioning on the court.”

Rome is Zverev’s third title of the year after Munich (clay) and Montpeillier (indoor hard), and he rises to 3-0 in finals in 2017 and 4-2 career.

Djokovic after the match dropped the Agassi coaching bomb.

“I spoke to Andre the last couple of weeks on the phone and we decided to get together in Paris,” said Djokovic of the American’s first foray into coaching. “He’s going to be there. We’ll see what the future brings…We don’t have any long term commitment, it’s just us trying to get to know each other in Paris a little but. He will not stay the whole tournament, he’s going to stay until a certain time then we’ll see what’s going to happen.”


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31 Comments for Zverev Powers Djokovic Off Court for Rome Title, Top 10 Debut

Tennisfansince1976 Says:

There is a fresh new kid from Serbia, Novak Djokovic, just cracked the top ten for race points this year!


Miles Says:

This ‘fresh new kid’ has lost twice against Krygios and now against Zverev this year – which doesn’t bode well for the future.


henry Says:

Correction to the article: Rafa won Rome at age 18, after winning the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona and just prior to winning Roland Garros 2 days after turning 19.


chrisford1 Says:

As people said of Fed and Rafa when they had their down time, regrouping – in years past.
“(X) has done so much already, had so many huge wins on all surfaces that they could walk away and be in the top 5-7 players of all time. They have already crossed the finish line as great champions. Anything else is gravy from here on in.”
Well, the same standard applies to Djokovic, and there are signs that his regathering of top form may happen sooner than the hiatuses of Rafa and Roger’s.
And that said, big congrats to Alex Z. Not since Rafa and Novak won a big event in their teens as another player done so at such a young age as Alex did at 20.
He is a nice guy, hard working, very talented and well liked by other players and will soon have a very large fan base. Nice looking kid, too. We shall see if women and gays swoon for him like they did young Rafa in his “Pirate look outfit” of sleeveless shirts, capri pants, and banded long hair.


chrisford1 Says:

Does mentioning gay or gays in regards to tennis place you in automatic ‘awaiting moderation’ ??


Willow Says:

Yes ….


Wog Boy Says:

Congrats to Zverev, next generation doesn’t knock on the door, they opened the door. He’s got everything in his game and abounds of confidence. I love his BH, accurate, strong, flat enough, deep, CC or DTL, you name it.
As I said yesterday, didn’t expect him to win, Zverev is player whose style doesn’t suit Nole and he nrver plays good against player that he plays first time, particularly as good as Zverev.
Nole worked hard to self destruct, now has to work harder to come back, that is how it works in life, this is good start, first time since WTF he connected three good matches (RBA, Delpo, Thiem) next one he has to connect seven good matches, Agassi or no Agassi, problem is in Nole.


Miles Says:

ChrisFord wrote “and there are signs that his regathering of top form may happen sooner than the hiatuses of Rafa and Roger’s”.

What? Being well beaten by a 20-year-old is a return to form? LOl! He’s a long way away from last year’s form.

Can he regain it? It’s not impossible, but he’s been under-par for almost a year now.


J-Kath Says:

Perhaps I’m on my own – but I don’t believe there will be a “new generation” winner at FO or any other Grand Slam this year.


Wog Boy Says:

“20 year old” is established top player who has beaten already Rafa and Roger, not any 20 years old player.


Wog Boy Says:

JK,

I can see similarities between Nole and Sasha.
In the year 2007 another 19 years old broke through and won his first masters (Miami), still in 2007, within a months of turning 20 same young dude lined up top 3 payers in that order (Rodick, Rafa, Roger) to win his second masters title, within a month he was playing USO final and within a months he won his first GS.
Sasha won his first masters just in time and style, he has great game and confidence of young man who knows his capabilities, very much so. With support he is having he is destined for great success and this is just beginning of that great road to glory.
I am not fortune teller but I feel in my guts that he will win many more titles, big ones, GS ones, same as I could feel in my guts yesterday that Nole won’t beat Sasha.
Don’t be mistaken, I am not Sasha fan and I am not one of those who “prepares” themselves to become somebody’s fans. I need a spark and it didn’t happen with Sasha, though I don’t dislike him. I am more of Thiem fan, though he is inferior to Sasha, but I don’t pick players to follow just because they are best in the business, but I can bet my house that tne most famous bandwagoner on TX will be in no time on Zverev train.


J-Kath Says:

Fair enuf, WB:

But I still would take a “ethereal” bet that it will not happen this year. There are still too many “Nole-level” players around
for Sasha to win a Slam this year. Might be fun to run a non-profit betting contest between Tx posters for the next 8 months?

Cheers
K


Wog Boy Says:

Correction,
Sasha hasn’t beaten Rafa, not yet, though he came close:)


J-Kath Says:

Wog Boy:

Has he beaten Andy? and Roger?


J-Kath Says:

Ater midnight chez-moi – sleep well everybody.


Wog Boy Says:

JK,

He has beaten Roger in Halle and in Perth this year, not Andy, Andy trashed him last year at AO.


skeezer Says:

“There is no doubt he took time away from me”
Key point to the guys who like to play slow and hit slow. This guy Z has been watching Fed matches of late….


Tennisfansince1976 Says:

Though he did not win Zverev played very well against Nadal at the Australian open. He was up 2 sets to 1. The first 3 sets were high level tennis. After that Zverev wore down a bit. Plus he had match point on Nadal last year st Indian wells and flubbed a sitter volley then promptly collapsed mentally.


Willow Says:

BO5 Gives the elite players more time to work things out when they are not playing their best, so it could be a different animal for the up and coming players, it could be completely different when it comes to the GS, sorts the men out from the boys, my two cents ….


Margot Says:

Fabulous from Zverev and, of course, has achieved something Raonic, Kei, Gorgeous Grig, Naughty Nick etc have failed to do, win a Masters 1000! Last player outside “Big 4″ was, I believe, Cilc.
Genuine Q for Nole fans, how do you think Huggy will fit in now? My feeling is that Agassi would be a lot more tolerant than some others.
Hey AM! I didn’t come bottom in either challenge….a real miracle!


Van Persie Says:

“Fabulous from Zverev and, of course, has achieved something Raonic, Kei, Gorgeous Grig, Naughty Nick etc have failed to do, win a Masters 1000! Last player outside “Big 4″ was, I believe, Cilc.”

Totally agree with that Margot. This kid showed he can be consistent. Instead of insisting, that he may not be able to win a GS this year, I think he deserves some congrats.

“Genuine Q for Nole fans, how do you think Huggy will fit in now? My feeling is that Agassi would be a lot more tolerant than some others”

Agree also with that. Do think Agassi does not care about that.


Van Persie Says:

“Don’t be mistaken, I am not Sasha fan ”

WB, I liked Sascha a lot last year, something to do with his hair ;) I also think, he has all the skills, in order to be a multiple GS winner and future Nr.1, but it is something about him , that I do not like. When he will achieve his goals, you will see arrogance at it’s finest. Hope I am wrong.


Van Persie Says:

Furthermore, Zverev did manage to win a master this year, Nole and Andy failed to do it until now!


AndyMira Says:

Yo M!….Yeah,me too!!..Yayyy!!..Let’s pat our own back M!!…But poor rc in WTA Bracket!..uhuk!uhuk!uhuk!…Race u to RG now M!!…Who’s late,they’re going to date big big big John………Isner!!!!….Urgh!!Not me M!!…zoooooooommmmm!!Ciao babe!!Woohooo!!!


Old School Says:

I’m a fan of superlative tennis, have been since Gonzalez, before Aussie dominance. A champion takes the game to a different rung on the ladder and this is a unique time. The sport needs Zverev, Thiem & others to challenge the greats and the sometimes greats (Stan). If they’re going to get there they have to capitalize on the physical advantages they have now with maturity, mental toughness and intelligence and win a GS. Nothing less than semis this year, a win no later than next.


James Says:

Zverev may be the real deal. I hope so. I really like the guy. Plus he’s got great game. Reminds me of Delpo a little bit when he burst into the scene in 2009 (both 6 foot 6 and a complete game, very good head on their shoulders). Hope Zverev becomes stronger and doesn’t get injured like Delpo.

Not sure how far Thiem or Kyrgios will go. Both certainly have tons of talent and potential. Can’t see anyone else on the horizon (amongst younger folks).


Danica Says:

Well played Sascha!!! Congrats on the first masters title, no doubt many more will come. Nice new face ;)

As Paul Annacone said, Nole’s game is here, tennis he showed in semis is here. The consistency depends on other outside things.

These final stages of the tournament reminded me of the ATP World Tour Finals where Nole playedan impecable game in the semis, destroying Nishi, only to play painfully lame in the final. Not that his opponents wouldn’t have won anyway, but the fight could’ve been greater.


Willow Says:

Congrats to AZ, no doubt the new generation is arriving, and we are going through a transition in the mens game, although they need to bring it to the GS too ….


J-Kath Says:

Yep Willow: Grand Slams are often a different challenge.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Wish Zeverev didn’t always look like he’s going to cry, or his parents just took away his favourite toy because he won’t apologize. I can’t see myself cheering for someone with that look, it just turns me off.

Will Thiem, Kyrgios and Zverev be more consequential than Raonic, Nishikori and Dmitrov? At least their timing is better.

Now we’re heading into Roland Garros and the world 1 and 2 have not won anything significant on the season. Pretty different from the last few years!


Van Persie Says:

TV,

“Wish Zeverev didn’t always look like he’s going to cry, or his parents just took away his favourite toy because he won’t apologize. I can’t see myself cheering for someone with that look, it just turns me off.”

Well, it’s killing him to lose :) hehe

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