EXCLUSIVE: Andre Agassi gives his backing to two of the game’s rising stars

Tennis Features
Alexander-Zverev flexing his muscles

Andre Agassi has backed Alexander Zverev to emerge as the star of the men’s game in the post Roger Federer era, as he believes the German wonderkid will find a way to haves his talents to become a Grand Slam champion.

Zverev has been hailed as the leader of the next generation of tennis superstars, yet the rising stars of the game looking to break into the world’s elite list have struggled to find a way past the modern greats to claim their first major title.

After world No 4 Zverev secured a big win at the ATP Tour Washington 500 event earlier this month, he suffered disappointing defeats in the Masters Series events in Toronto and Cincinnati and heads into the US Open looking to get past the second round at Flushing Meadows for the first time in his career.

Alexander Zverev forehand
Alexander Zverev forehand

At the age of 21, Zverev has time on his side to convert potential into success and Agassi believes he will be the player to assume the crown at the top of the game once Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic end their iconic careers.

“I think Alex Zverev, or Sacha as they call him, is the guy to watch moving forward, but not right here and right now,” Lavazza ambassador Agassi told Tennis365.

“A lot of people fear what will happen to tennis when Federer, Nadal and Djokovic are not playing any more, but I would look at it in a more positive light. Maybe by the time these great players go, we will be ready for new guys to come in and give the sport a new look.

“Zverev is the one guy I believe can win a lot of big titles if he gets everything right. You don’t quite know how long it takes for a kid to become a champion. Some do it very early, but most have to find a way to win and to feel comfortable in that environment before they can win big events. Zverev is working out how to get there at the moment, but I like what I see from him.

“He is an incredible talent, he has a great future and I would be shocked if he didn’t win major titles, but he has holes in his game right now and they need to be ironed out.”

Agassi is also a huge admirer of Nick Kyrgios and believes the Aussie could be a champion in the making if he matures into a player ready to go the distance at the major events.

Nick Kyrgios in jovial mood
Nick Kyrgios in jovial mood

“Kyrgios may be the greatest natural talent of the guys coming through now, but you have to wait and see if he can put it all together when it matters most,” says Agassi.

“He is as gifted as you can get on a tennis court, but he needs to focus on what is required to reach the very top because there is no doubt his talent is there. Maybe he needs to find the right person to give him some guidance and that would need to be someone he respects, but you can see what is possible with Kyrgios.

“There are so many ways this guy could win a tennis match, but equally there are ways he can lose it that most players have not thought of yet. He needs to focus on what he can do and hopefully the problems he has had with injuries do not affect him.

“What I would say about Kyrgios is that he is one of the few players we would all pay to watch playing tennis and if he can find a balance that allows him to start winning more consistently, everything is possible for him.”

Andre Agassi spoke to Tennis365 at a Lavazza event.

Follow Kevin Palmer on Twitter @RealKevinPalmer

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