Alexander Zverev claimed his first ATP title on this day four years ago in St. Petersburg. Competing in already his 44th ATP tournament, the 19-year-old German fulfilled his talent to celebrate the title in his parents' country, beating world no.
3 Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 in two hours and 23 minutes. Thus, Zverev became the first teenager with an ATP title since Marin Cilic in New Haven 2008, ending the drought that seemed to be lasting forever, being the one who was supposed to break it.
Since his first professional victory in Germany F14 Futures in 2012, still at 15, Alexander had been improving his game continually, gathering much-needing experience while traveling with his older brother Mischa. It became evident how immense talent he is, leading his generation and those born a year or two before him.
Already achieving some notable age milestones, Zverev was ready to chase a high goal, and it was only a matter of time before he would lift his first ATP trophy. Alexander made seven ATP semi-finals ahead of St. Petersburg, never finding those two extra steps that would carry him through.
Alexander competed on a high level in the opening four encounters, advancing into the final without losing a set and sending a clear message about his aspirations following the semi-final triumph against Tomas Berdych. Zverev needed even better tennis in the title match, with the top seed Stan Wawrinka waiting on the other side of the net, motivated after winning his third Major title in New York and carried by a streak of 11 consecutive ATP finals won since the start of 2014!
Nonetheless, Zverev wasn't impressed by his rival, leaving the fact he played for the first ATP crown behind him to deliver excellent tennis overall and show great mental strength to come from 3-0 down in the decider.
Almost nothing could separate the rivals throughout the encounter, with each scoring two sets in those they won before the decider and Zverev clinching only four points more than Wawrinka. They had similar percentages on serve, but we have to say that Stan created more break chances, 11 (five of them in a single game, though) against five, taking no advantage of that!
It was a stern test for Zverev right from the start, fending off a break chance in the opening game with a service winner and repeating the same at 1-1. This time, Stan earned two break points, wasting them both to keep the youngster on the scoreboard's positive side.
Like it usually happens, Stan had to experience troubles after wasting his chances, with the first break opportunity for Zverev in game four. A teenager asked for a challenge in the worst time, missing a chance for a break way too quickly.
Since the start of the clash, Alexander made too many errors, having to work hard behind the initial shot at 2-2 to remain in front. Still, from that moment on, he suddenly seized the control, breaking Wawrinka in game six for a 4-2 advantage after a lovely backhand down the line winner.
Alexander Zverev claimed the first ATP title at 19 in St. Petersburg 2016.
The experienced Swiss lost the ground completely in the last three games, dropping the set's final ten points to suffer a break at love in game eight and hand the opener to the youngster.
Stan served at 75% while Zverev stayed at 52% in set number two, and the Swiss no. 1 was the much better player on the court, dropping only four points on serve and taking the set 6-3 with a double break. It started with two comfortable holds ahead of the most extended game of the encounter.
Alexander saved four break points before Stan finally grabbed his first break when the German missed the volley at the net. Wawrinka was doing the right thing in those moments, moving Zverev around the baseline and making him hitting from awkward positions, opening the court for easy executions.
A teenager did his best to stay in touch until game nine when he lost serve again after a double fault, as Stan leveled the overall score and gathered momentum ahead of the decider. The three-time Major champion was now the favorite to wrap up the triumph, finding the way to expose his opponent and looking good to extend the finals' winning streak.
Wawrinka opened the final set with an easy hold and broke Zverev to jump 2-0 in front, firing a beautiful forehand crosscourt winner to gain a significant advantage and make the youngster losing his temper. Wawrinka was now cruising behind the initial shot, moving 3-0 in front and forcing the opponent to find his A-game as soon as possible.
The youngster finally stopped Stan's run of five consecutive games, cutting the deficit to 3-1 and battling for a break in game five, converting it when Stan sent a forehand long. The match was now pretty much open, as this break restored Zverev's strokes completely, playing toe to toe with Stan as they reached 5-5.
Wawrinka was 40-15 up in the 11th game before Alexander came back to deuce, scoring a crucial break when the Swiss landed a couple of forehands long. Serving for the victory and his first ATP title, Zverev held his nerves supremely, holding at 15 and sealing the triumph with a forehand winner to start a massive celebration as the first teenager in more than eight years.
Entering the top-10 in the summer of 2017, Alexander has stayed there ever since, lifting three Masters 1000 trophies and the ATP Finals crown, competing in the first Major final at the US Open a couple of weeks ago.