Ever since he made his first big professional steps in July 2014 (Braunschweig Challenger title and the semi-final of the ATP 500 event in Hamburg), Alexander Zverev has been among the leading youngsters on the Tour and by far the best NextGen star since 2016. He claimed his first ATP title in St.
Petersburg in 2016 as the youngest champion on the Tour since 2008 and there was much more to come in 2017 when he won 55 matches and five ATP crowns, including two Masters 1000 crowns! The German made his Masters 1000 debut in Miami 2015, qualifying for the main draw and defeating Sam Groth to grab the first victory at this level before the 18th birthday.
Unlike at Grand Slams where he is yet to find the consistency necessary to make him the title contender, Alexander has been one of the best players in the world at Masters 1000 level in the last two seasons, proving his quality in the best-of-three matches to become a three-time champion much faster than any other competitor born in the 90's.
Last week in Shanghai, Zverev scored his 50th Masters 1000 win of his young career en route to his seventh semi-final at this level (in six different tournaments) where he lost to Novak Djokovic, and it provides us with a perfect opportunity to make a comparison between him and the most successful players of this series in the last 20 years, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.
Of course, it doesn't have to be an indicator of a future success but it is really impressive to see a 21-year-old player with so many good results at premium nine events in the ATP calendar, reaching those 50 wins at a younger age than Murray and Federer.
In fact, Roger Federer had been a late bloomer and he is the worst player on this list, spending almost five years before clinching his 50th Masters 1000 win at Indian Wells 2004 at the age of 22 years and seven months. The great Swiss has won 27 titles and 362 Masters 1000 matches overall but the start was anything but promising, dropping 11 out of the first 13 matches he played at this level and failing to win back-to-back encounters before Miami 2001 when he reached the quarters.
A year later, Federer was the finalist in Miami and his maiden Masters 1000 crown came in May in Hamburg, his favorite clay Masters where he would have a lot of success in the following years. His 50th Masters 1000 win occurred in the second round at Indian Wells 2004, playing his first Masters 1000 tournament as the world number 1, and his score at that moment was 50-33, needing 35 tournaments to reach the milestone number.
By that point, Roger Federer played in 11 Masters 1000 quarter-finals, five semi-finals, three finals and with that Hamburg title in his hands. Between 2004-2007, Federer would win 13 Masters 1000 titles and he stood as one of the best players of the series in the years to come, including three titles in 2017 that moved him three away from the magical number of 30.
Andy Murray made his Masters 1000 debut in Cincinnati 2005 and he was more efficient than Roger in the early years, scoring the 50th Masters 1000 win at Indian Wells 2009 at the age of 21 years and nine months. Andy needed seven tournaments less than the Swiss to secure this milestone, playing well at this level since 2006 and winning the first title in Cincinnati 2008.
Standing as one of the best players in the world on hard courts, Murray was able to win a lot of matches on the dominant Masters 1000 surface and he managed to conquer two titles of this serves between 2008-2011, standing on 14 at the moment for the fifth-best result since 1990.
At the moment of his 50th Masters 1000 triumph, the Briton had reached nine quarter-finals, six semi-finals and won two titles from as many finals. Unlike his coevals or players born in the previous generations, Zverev was there to fight against the best players for Masters 1000 glory ever since the fourth round clash with Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells in 2016 when he was still 18, beginning his charge a year later when he won back-to-back titles in Rome and Montreal to stand as the youngest Masters 1000 champion since Novak Djokovic in 2007! With the ability to play on a high level on both surfaces and in all conditions, Zverev has forged his way towards the 50th Masters 1000 win faster than Federer or Murray, achieving that at the age of 21 years and five months and after just 26 tournaments played.
Shanghai excluded, Alexander has already played in 10 quarter-finals (the seventh youngest player with so many last eight appearances at Masters), seven semi-finals at six different tournaments and five finals that carried him towards three titles.
The 32-time Masters 1000 champion Novak Djokovic was a little bit better than Zverev at the moment of the 50th Masters 1000 win, grabbing it in Toronto 2008, just three years after his first event of this level in Cincinnati 2005.
In fact, Novak scored just seven triumphs in 2005 and 2006 before propelling his game to a higher level in 2007 when he clinched 24 wins and two titles from three finals! He had a very strong run in 2008 as well and that was enough to secure the milestone win in Toronto at the age of 21 years and two months, playing in 11 quarter-finals up to that point and eight semis, one more than Zverev.
In addition, they both reached five finals with the difference that Novak drew four titles from those, needing 24 tournaments to accumulate a 50-19 score. What Novak and Alexander did at the Masters 1000 series at such a young age is very impressive but there's one player who overshadows them all, that being the 33-time champion Rafael Nadal! Masters 1000 career of the great Spaniard had started in Monte Carlo 2003 when he was still 16, toppling world number 7 Albert Costa en route to the place in the last 16 and making the perfect start of his journey at this level that saw him breaking numerous records in the last 15 years.
Rafa grabbed nine wins in 2003 and 2004 and the best part of the story was just around the corner, counting to 28 wins and four titles in 2005, still as a teenager. He was already a five-time Masters 1000 champion when he notched the 50th Masters 1000 win in Rome 2006 at the age of 19 years and 11 months, playing mind-blowing 18 tournaments up to that point and standing on a superb 50-12 score, something we will probably not gonna see ever again at this level of competition.
In the previous 17 tournaments played, Nadal never lost a match in any of the seven quarter-finals he played and he transformed that into six finals and five titles! Just to appear on this list is a magnificent result for Zverev and he has the faster "checkpoint" than the names like Roger Federer and Andy Murray to make this achievement even more important.
Sascha has already scored more Masters 1000 wins than older rivals like Dominic Thiem, Jack Sock, Nick Kyrgios and Borna Coric and there's much more to come in the following years, seeking his 100th win in the next couple of years when we should make the similar list once again.
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