Alexander Zverev wrapped up the season in the top-7 for the third straight year but his 2019 tennis was miles below the level produced in 2017 and 2018. The three-time Masters 1000 winner and the ATP Finals champion has been the leader of the young guns in the last couple of years, achieving almost all the milestones before his coevals or many older rivals and chasing more of the same in the season behind us.
Instead of that, the German produced a mediocre season with one small ATP title and many setbacks, both on and off the court. With 44 victories but also 25 defeats under his belt, Alexander was capable of securing the third straight appearance at the ATP Finals in London thanks to the final run in Acapulco and Shanghai and the quarter-final at Roland Garros, repeating what he did at Majors in 2018 but making no progress what so ever.
Suffering seven losses to players ranked outside the top-40, Zverev went back and forth all the time, unable to find his A-game or settle into a rhythm that would make him competitive again, scoring only three wins in ten encounters against the top-10 rivals and leaving his fans mighty disappointed most of the time.
Alexander refused to play at the Davis Cup Finals, choosing to hit South America and Mexico tour with Roger Federer and finishing the year with the Swiss in China as well. Without a proper offseason training process (he had to undergo a small surgery as well), Alexander arrived at the ATP Cup, leading Germany in challenging Group F against Australia, Greece and Canada and facing Alex de Minaur in the first clash.
Before the match, Zverev talked about the improvements ahead of the new season and the desire to perform at his best again and chase big titles against the rivals from the top. Following the first seven games of that de Minaur encounter, it looked the German was on a firm comeback course, doing everything right on the court to control the scoreboard and forge a 5-2 advantage.
De Minaur started to fight back in the closing stages of the set that Zverev brought home in the tenth game, opening a massive lead in the second as well to stand 6-4, 4-2 in front, with more chances in that seventh game.
Instead of bringing the match home, Alexander kicked off the "2019 mode" again, fading from the court and suffering a 4-6, 7-6 6-2 loss in two hours and 44 minutes. Hitting 14 double faults, Zverev couldn't control his anger, smashing a racquet and not being able to recover in the decider and at least fight for a more favorable result.
If he manages to bring those opening seven days to his regular display, Alexander should fight for the place in the top-4 again, but only if he leaves those ugly wavings behind him and start competing on a balanced level.