Alexander Zverev promises to be the face of German tennis for many years to come. The 19-year old, who will be into the Top 30 on Monday, just took a major step in building up his confidence. Zverev defeated Roger Federer in the semifinals of ATP Halle on Saturday 7-6, 5-7, 6-3.
The young German player is already the No. 2 for his country with Philipp Kohlschreiber the long-serving No. 1. However, it does not appear as though it will be that long before Zverev supplants Kohlschreiber in the rankings. The young 19-year old has come on strong of late while the elder German recently announced a hip injury. With a good result at Wimbledon, Zverev could easily move into the top ranking for his country.
Furthermore, in making the Halle final Zverev does have a better-than-average chance of winning it. Dominic Thiem went out in the semifinals, putting 192nd-ranked Florian Mayer into the final to face Zverev. Mayer is a talented player, but his best years may be behind him now. That leaves the championship in Halle very much Zverev’s to win or lose.
A title in Halle would send him shooting up the rankings very quickly. The 19-year-old entered the week ranked 38th, but a Halle victory would see him likely ranked about 25th. Halle is a fairly prestigious title on tour as it is part of the 500-series. If Zverev wins it then it should increase what is already major buzz about his potential.
In my opinion, that is clear Top-10 potential with possible Top-3 potential for some point during his career. If he can make it to the Top 10 with speed, then he might break what could be called a ‘teenage drought’ in the upper echelon of men’s tennis. When it comes to baby-faced assassins on the ATP Tour there haven’t been many of late. Even Thiem is already 22 years old, and he has not yet won a major. Marin Cilic was the last first-time Grand Slam winner, but he was nowhere near teenaged years when he won the 2014 US Open.
I looked at Juan Martin del Potro, Kei Nishikori, and Milos Raonic among others. Delpo almost made the Top 10 as a teenager, but Nishikori and Raonic weren’t close. I really don’t think I am missing anyone when I write that you have to go back to the May 21st, 2007 rankings to find the most-recent time when a teenager was in the Top 10. Those rankings were just ahead of Novak Djokovic’s 20th birthday, and he was ranked 6th at the time. However, for a long stay in the Top 10 for a teenager, you have to go back to Rafael Nadal’s emergence. In April 2005 he debuted in the Top 10 as a teenager and stayed there until he turned 20 in June of 2006.
Zverev will be a teen for 10 months still, giving him plenty of time to improve on his current ranking, which will probably be about 28th or so on Monday. That ranking will get him seeded in the majors, and it will get him into even the small-field Masters Series events.
In regard to those big-point tournaments, Zverev has lots of room for ranking-points growth. A title in Halle will surely help, but the bigger events are the main keys. He’s definitely an interesting player to watch as his career is starting to take off right now, just when a lot of the mainstays in the Top 10, like Federer, Nadal, David Ferrer, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, are starting to hit some major speed-bumps.