Champion in the making: Alexander Zverev

21302381522_56b48e2506_o.jpgName: Alexander Zverev

Age: 19

Born: Germany

Similar playing style to: Michael Stich

At 19, Zverez just looks like a ready made champion. An absolute bomb of a serve, an excellent two-handed backhand and an improving temperament.

In March, Rafael Nadal recognised Zverev’s potential, calling him a: “possible future No. 1 who has all the shots” and “everything to become a big star.” Nadal hasn’t talked up a young player like that since facing Kei Nishikori as a teenager at Queens, he said Kei would be: “top 5 for sure.” how right was he. Zverez is the youngest player in the ATP top 50, after a great year has shot him up to 24th in the world.

Zverez began 2016 with wins over Marian Cilic, Varek Pospisil and Gilles Simon, which showed this man was on a mission this year. Indian Wells was the first tournament that players, pundits and fans realised just how good Zverev was at the age of 19. He eventually lost out to Nadal 6-7 6-0 7-5, but the way he bullied Nadal at times was so impressive for a man that still has so much to learn.

That successful run at Indian Wells seemed to transform Zverev into a more complete player. The German was full of confidence going into Nice, on his favoured surface, and duly delivered. Zverev cruised into the final, where he met another talented youngster in Dominic Thiem in the final, and they served up a classic encounter that he just lost narrowly.

Back to his native Germany for the Halle Open. Zverev secured his biggest win to date, beating Roger Federer in straight sets, before losing to Florian Mayer in the final.

The German won his first ATP title in Saint Petersburg. Zverev raced to the semi-finals without losing a set, in which he dismantled Tomas Berdych to win 6-4 6-4. Onto the final, Stan Wawrinka stood in his way. It didn’t faze him one bit, Zverev eventually won a close encounter 6-2 3-6 7-5 that propelled him into the top 30 of the world for the first time in his young career.

Now Zverev has won that first title, I’m expecting him to get strength to strength, and really push on next year. He’s improving all of the time, and undoubtedly has every tool required to be one of the top, top players. The wins over Federer and Wawrinka will have given him valuable experience, and confidence to win more and more titles. It looks a matter of time before Zverez starts making his presence felt in Grand Slams, he really is that good.

I look forward to watching him develop into a superstar, and battle it out against other top players like Thiem, Borna Coric, Nick Kyrgios and all of the other young starts in the future.

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The next Djokovic? Borna Coric

14886453069_baf08dcb32_o.jpgName: Borna Coric
Age: 19
Born: Croatia
Similar playing style to: Novak Djokovic

 

I thought I’d start this blog off with my favourite up and coming star.

Coric has a tattoo on his arm that reads: “There is nothing worse in life than being ordinary” he certainly isn’t ordinary. The Croatian teenager clearly does not lack in confidence; but he has the pedigree to back it up. Furthermore, Goran Ivanisevic is backing his protege Coric to hit the very top of the sport.

 After winning the 2013 junior US Open championships, Coric defeated world number 1 Andy Murray in straight sets at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, before losing his semi-final to Roger Federer.

 Coric started 2016 excellently in Chennai, only losing to Stan Wawrinka in the final. Onto the French Open, Coric overcame Taylor Fritz in a close match before securing his biggest win to date over Bernard Tomic in round 2. Just from watching that match, you knew he was something special. To dispose of a top 30 player in that fashion was a real sign of how good this man can be.

Coric also performed to a ridiculous standard for his young age in Cinciatti, on his favoured hard court. Coric battled his way past Beniot Paire and Nick Kyrgios in the opening two rounds, then utterly destroyed Rafael Nadal 6-1 6-3, it’s hard to remember he’s only 19.

Knee injuries halted Coric’s great year, meaning he had to pull out of The US Open. Although he still broke into the worlds top 50, becoming the second fastest player ever to do so, behind Djokovic.

Coric will be hoping for an injury free season in 2017, and continue his climb to the very top. He looks like the next Djokovic in everything he does. His performances over Murray, Tomic and Nadal were nothing short of amazing, taking into account his lack of experience on the big stage. I really hope he manages to stay clear of injuries, because I think we have a ‘future superstar’ in Borna Coric.