Ever since he grabbed his first ATP point in August 2012, Alexander Zverev has been the most prominent player of his generation and it didn't take him long to outplay the much older rivals and continue his charge through the ATP rankings. Sascha made the name for himself in 2014 when he won Braunschweig Challenger and reached the semi-final of the ATP 500 event in Hamburg as the 17-year-old, entering the Top 80 in 2015 and claiming his maiden ATP title in St.
Petersburg in 2016 as the first teenager with an ATP crown since Marin Cilic in August 2008. With no intentions of slowing down, Zverev clinched 55 wins and five ATP titles in 2017, including two Masters 1000 crowns, in what has been one of the best seasons for the U20 players in the last 15 years.
From outside the Top 20, Sascha forged his way towards the Top 3 and he closed the season ranked 4th, the youngest player in that group since Novak Djokovic in 2007 despite a poor run after Montreal! The start of 2018 was not that good as well, claiming just eight wins before Miami where he reached the much-needed final to take his season in the right direction.
Sascha was one of the players to beat on clay, winning Munich and Madrid (one of the most dominant Masters 1000 displays since 1990) and reaching the final in Rome and the quarter-final at Roland Garros, his first at Majors in a career.
The German defended the title in Washington but he lost the ground after that, failing to reach the final in the next seven events and seeking the best possible result at the ATP Finals. With the proper corrections in his game, Zverev went on to win the title as the first U21 player since Novak Djokovic in 2008, overcoming Juan Martin del Potro to finish the second consecutive season in the Top 4 as the sixth-youngest player since the start of the rankings in 1973! The young German is the 13th player who managed to achieve this before turning 23, joining multiple Grand Slam winners and some of the biggest names of our sport in the last 45 years.
Andy Murray did that at the age of 22 in 2009 and Novak was a little bit more advanced, wrapping up 2007 and 2008 in the elite group behind Federer and Nadal, just a month younger than what Zverev will be at the end of this season.
Rafa has earned his place on the list in 2006 and at the age of 22 he already had four consecutive Top 4 finishes, something that will stay out of reach for probably every youngster in the next couple of decades. In the last 25 years, the only players who were capable of accomplishing this feat are Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Alexander Zverev, which speaks for itself about the level of this achievement from the Hamburg native.
Jim Courier and Pete Sampras entered the list in the early 90's at the age of 22 and it was Mats Wilander who joined the party with rock solid 1983 and 1984 seasons, finishing inside the Top 4 at the age of 20 as the last player before Rafael Nadal.
Zverev's coach Ivan Lendl was already among the best players in the world in 1981 and 1982 and it was his great rival John McEnroe who finished inside the Top 4 in 1978 and 1979, with two great seasons behind him already before turning 21.
Jimmy Connors was the first player to achieve this at the dawn of the ATP rankings in 1973 and 1974 and he was followed by incredible Bjorn Borg who is the only player who earned the place on the list as a teenager, conquering 13 ATP titles in 1974 and 1975 to establish himself as the next youngest in the world in those years. The youngest players who finished inside the Top 4 in two consecutive seasons:
Jimmy Connors - 22 (1973-74)
Bjorn Borg - 19 (1974-75)
John McEnroe - 20 (1978-79)
Ivan Lendl - 22 (1981-82)
Mats Wilander - 20 (1983-84)
Jim Courier - 22 (1991-92)
Pete Sampras - 22 (1992-93)
Lleyton Hewitt - 21 (2001-02)
Andy Roddick - 22 (2003-04)
Rafael Nadal - 20 (2005-06)
Novak Djokovic - 21 (2007-08)
Andy Murray - 22 (2008-09)
Alexander Zverev - 21 (2017-18)