Alexander (‘Sascha’) Zverev has been touted as the successor to the Big Three since his remarkable rise as a teenager. The 23-year-old German player has been a fixture in the Top 10 since 2017, and rose to a career best of No.
3 by that very same year (at age 20). Zverev collected his first of three Masters 1000 titles by beating legends Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in his most successful year, 2017, winning five of his 11 ATP titles. Sasha followed up this remarkable year with a third Masters 1000 title in 2018 at Madrid, at the expense of his U.S.
Open opponent, Dominic Thiem. He is the only active player besides the Big Four (Federer, Rafa Nadal, Djokovic, and Andy Murray) to hold three Masters titles, prompting Nadal to label him a “clear possible future No. 1” (Wimbledon.com).
His 2018 ATP Finals victory sealed his path to ascension, the youngest player in a decade to become champion in London. But grand slam victory has often eluded Sascha Zverev, who hails from a tennis playing family with both parents having played for the Soviet Union and his brother Mischa still active on the tour.
Grand slams have been dominated by the likes of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, hording an astronomical number 56 out of the last 66 majors in what is considered the “golden era of tennis”. Zverev has langured under their shadow in his own quest to break this slam fortress.
But at this year’s U.S. Open Federer is out rehabbing a bad knee, Nadal has opted to stay in Europe to prepare for the rescheduled clay season and his favorite tournament—Roland Garros—while Djokovic was defaulted due to unsportsmanlike conduct.
Tennis fans have been expecting the next generation of tennis players to rise up to the challenge, and the matchup between Zverev and Dominic Thiem is an exciting one.
The last time the two met was earlier this year, at the Australian Open, Zverev’s first semifinal, a match where Domi Thiem won, after having defeated one the Big Three, Nadal, in the quarters.
The 27-year-old Austrian holds the upper edge over the German, having beaten Zverev seven times out of nine, including the last three times. Thiem also has the advantage of experience, having made three finals, including this year’s Australian, where he lost to Djokovic.
Of the two, the current world No. 3 looks stronger, only dropping one set in the third round to 2014 winner Marin Cilic.
In contrast, Zverev has only won one of his matches here in straight sets.
His semi win over Pablo Carreño Busta looked questionable, with Zverev’s usual weapon—his serve—all over the place.
The world No. 7 managed to dig deep and win “dirty” by retooling his focus right when it looked like he was going out of the tournament. By the time we got to the fourth set, Zverev looked like a completely different player, exhibiting some serious swagger as he secured his finals spot, 3-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3.
Perhaps Zverev has tapped into his confidence at the right time for just such a moment.
Former World #4 Jonas Bjorkman catches up with Mark Masters to talk about the US Open men's final.
Either Dominic Thiem or Alexander Zverev will become the first man born in the 1990s to win a Grand Slam.
VIDEO: https://t.co/laoOyQXhFF — TSN Tennis (@TSNTennis) September 12, 2020
If he plays like he did the last three sets with Busta, we will have quite a match on our hands. It’s also the mark of a champion to be able to squeeze out the win under less than ideal circumstances. Zverev maybe played messy, but he still managed to win.
“I think a lot of players would have gone away,” Zverev said after the match, according to The New York Times. “Sometimes you have to dig deep. Today I dug deep, dug very deep. “I was actually looking at the scoreboard when I was down two sets to love,” Zverev continued.In order to face off against Thiem, Zverev will need to call upon his trusty serve. If Sascha Zverev wins on Sunday, he will become the first German player since Boris Becker to win a grand slam, when the Berlin Wall still was up. Whoever wins on Sunday will be the first man born in the 1990’s to win a grand slam.
“I was like, I can’t believe it. I’m playing in a semifinal where I’m supposed to be the favorite, and I am down two sets to love, and I have no chance, I’m playing that bad. “So I knew I had to come up with better tennis and knew I had to be more stable”.