Sascha Zverev needs to prove he is the real deal after his latest flop
Kevin Palmer is growing increasingly worried about Alexander Zverev’s ability to deliver on his obvious potential after latest setback.
There are compelling arguments to support the hope that Alexander Zverev could be the next superstar of world tennis, yet his crushing defeat against world No.1 Novak Djokovic at the ATP World Tour finals on Wednesday in London served to highlight why huge doubts linger.
With the scores tied at 4-4 after a compelling first set packed with high quality tennis, Zverev was given the glimpse of encouragement he craved as he forced break points on the Djokovic serve.
With his opponents showing some signs of distress as he gestured to his box and stretched out what appeared to be one niggling area of discomfort on his body, Djokovic handed his youthful rival a chance to move a break ahead and serve for the match as he approached the net in hope as much as expectation.
The moment arrived for Zverev to unleash a lob that would have handed him a chance to serve for the first set, but instead of seizing the moment, the 21-year-old German missed his target and a few minutes later, he doubled faulted in limp fashion to hand Djokovic the first set.
As Djokovic ran away with the second set to record a 6-4, 6-1 win, confirmation that the ‘next big thing’ in tennis is still not ready to compete with the players contending for the trophies that matter.
On a day when Zverev’s first serve regularly topped the 140mph mark, he only managed to get it into court 42% of the time and even though his fizzing forehand rattled Djokovic in that thrilling first set, this dashing sportsman is still coming up consistently short when it matters most.
Many have compared Zverev to a young Roger Federer since his entry into the world’s top ten, with the Swiss maestro initially struggling to work out how to harness his sparkling natural talents into a winning game, yet the wait to discover whether a player who carries so many hopes for a bright future in the game can find a way to move himself from where he is now and up the two or three levels he may need to find before he is a genuine contender for Grand Slam titles.
Hiring Ivan Lendl to give him advice has the potential to change his fortunes in 2019, but on the evidence of what we saw in his latest defeat against the undisputed world No.1, Zverev still hasn’t found what he’s looking as he continues to knock on the door to the game’s top table and waits to locate his invite to dine with the greats.
More from Tennis365:
WTA top 10 prize-money earners in 2022: Iga Swiatek well clear as Ons Jabeur, Jessica Pegula also feature
Iga Swiatek laughing all the way to the bank after brilliant 2022 season.
WATCH: Emma Raducanu inspires next generation during ‘tennis masterclass’ with school pupils
Emma Raducanu giving back.
Roger Federer not ready for skiing holiday, but wants to take his kids on adventurous African trip
Roger Federer eyeing an adventurous African holiday.
Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov come full circle: ‘It’s cool to be in this position now’
From Junior Davis Cup champions to Senior Davis Cup champions.
How Cameron Norrie aims to become a tougher player to face
Cameron Norrie is tough to break down, but he feels he can make life even harder for his opponents.
Cameron Norrie hoping Saudi jaunt sets him up for Australian Open
Cameron Norrie is looking forward to seeing the sun again.
Alexander Zverev has made peace with his injury layoff
Alexander Zverev is at peace over his French Open injury saying at least it didn’t happen snowboarding.
Alexander Zverev heads to Saudi Arabia for competition and comradery
Alexander Zverev is thrilled to get the chance to get back on court and rub shoulders with the boys again.
Novak Djokovic snub for top award irks his fans, but analyst insists ‘Novak is not a great sport on court’
Novak Djokovic fans are unhappy that he was left off the list of nominees.
Lleyton Hewitt tried to get Nick Kyrgios to play Davis Cup, but world No 22 ‘about to go to Saudi for six figures’
Nick Kyrgios preparing for his big payday in Saudia Arabia.