In my opinion, Zverev is a mix between an Andy Murray and an Andre Agassi - Roger So (Rovo intern)
That Zverev is massively talented and capable (of taking on the greatest of tennis greats) is known to almost all who follow tennis. Much less obvious to the common eye are the reasons for such extraordinariness of his. The lines are quite murky for this one, for we've hardly (I would say never if it were just me) come across anyone who has yet made a concrete breakdown of Zverev's game. Hence, we aim to close this gap that has existed for far too long, right here in this article, on the powers of our very observant eyes and keen analysis.
Stability = Movement + Groundstrokes
In spite of his tender age of 20, the stability of Zverev's baseline play has a maturity that far exceeds that of players many years and experiences above his. Zverev hardly ever breaks down in the typical groundstroke rally. His efficient movement (both horizontal and vertical, but more particularly the horizontal) has almost always always allowed enough time to get in a position comfortable enough to hit the hard penetrative shots that is a distinctive trait of his. Such shots would then put his opponent on constant pressure, making it extremely hard for them to hit dangerous (nicely deliberately positioned or powerful) shots which would either finish the point of put Zverev in unideal positions. It is interesting how this work in a positive loop for Zverev: efficient movement > ease with which he can carry out pressurizing shots > weaker shots from opponents > efficient movement. A great chicken-and-egg thought experiment in tennis analysis!
Zverev has one of the best backhands on the ATP tour. In fact, we would venture so far as to argue that his backhand is better than Andy Murray. We were tempted to say it is better than Djokovic's, but because both backhands are very different in that they are good for different reasons (unlike the similarities of the Zverev and Murray backhand), a comparison in such fashion would be completely useless. An opponent desperate to take a break from the brunt of Zverev's relentless pressurizing groundstrokes would not be able to find such respite. If Zverev's forehands are punishing and highly fatal if a slip was made, Zverev's backhand is some levels higher when strength is concerned. In a fashion similar to Murray's, Zverev's backhands are typically flattened out. From my observation of his matches so far, the only times when he does not hit in such flat-out manner is when he wants to loop the ball back (most of the time out of necessity when the balls coming towards him is so loopy an attempt to flatten it out would be highly reckless). Very often whenever we watch his matches do we see his opponents instinctively hit to the weaker side, only to find themselve scrambling to what waa instead the stronger side. Very often too, Zverev runs around the forehand to hit straight-out backhand winners. What has allowed him to hit such backhands consistently over all these months are the above mentioned exceptional movement and his height. Thus sadly, given such 'fixed requirement' for such backhand shot-making ability, it is one most of us can never ever emulate.
(Alexander) literally wants to wake up everyday and play better than the day before. He wants to run faster than the day before. So he's very motivated which is good because I feel like that's the difference between really good players and the greats.. - Mischa Zverev
His brother, who knows him best, has said it. This young star's life is very literally fuelled and lived for one burning mission: to eventually match up with the tennis greats, the sooner the better. Although it has become a cliche for most tennis players or in fact most people in a profession, to want to be the very best they can very be, and to be driven by one sole purpose, few come close to the extent that the likes of Zverev (and Nadal) has taken the following of such mission statement to. For instance, Marat Safin (with all due respect to him and his achievements - I mean he is a great guy and we really like him, it's just that we don't know how to bring this point across without putting it in such an unflattering way) who in interviews throws around this same stuff, does not have the work ethic that Zverev has. He is known to have frequent schedules of binge drinking and partying even as upcoming tournaments loom.
Respect is based on success, in my opinion, and you only get that through hard work. - Alexander Zverev
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