At 24, Alexander Zverev stands as one of the most accomplished players of the new generation, playing in a Major final and winning five Masters 1000 crowns and the ATP Finals. What's missing in Alexander's CV is a top-10 win at Majors, still struggling against the rivals from the top and losing all 11 encounters to them on the most notable tennis scene.
The latest defeat came against Novak Djokovic in the US Open semi-final, with Zverev giving his best in a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 failure in three hours and 33 minutes. Alexander had won 16 straight matches before this clash, hoping to remain on the title course and fight for the US Open crown for the second straight season.
The German had beaten Djokovic in Tokyo and pushed him to the limits on Arthur Ashe Stadium, winning the fourth set before fading from the court in the decider! Novak claimed seven points more than Alexander, defending nine out of 12 break chances and seizing five out of eight opportunities on the return to emerge at the top and advance into the 31st Major final.
Djokovic's incredible mental strength played a role again, like many times before, defending four out of five break chances in the final set and converting both break chances to race in front and seal the deal from there.
Zverev played on a high level in the opener, dropping five points behind the initial shot and breaking Novak at 15 following the Serb's double fault in game nine. Alexander held at 30 a few minutes later to wrap up the set and make a promising start.
The German sprayed too many unforced errors in the second set, getting broken twice and allowing the Serb to take it 6-2. Both players earned three break chances in the third set, and Djokovic seized one that gave him the crucial advantage.
Alexander Zverev fell to Novak Djokovic in five sets in New York.
Zverev produced four fine holds to keep the pressure on the other side. Still, he wasted his opportunities and cracked under pressure in game ten when Djokovic broke him with a smash winner to take the set 6-4.
Eager to fight, Alexander served well in the fourth set, clinched a break in game three and brought it home with a service winner at 5-4 to force a decider. In a manner of a true champion, Djokovic took 20 of the opening 26 points in the fifth set to break Zverev's resistance and move closer to the finish line.
Alexander pulled one break back in the seventh game before Novak earned another at 5-2 that carried him into the ninth US Open final and left the German empty-handed. "It was a great battle and a pretty good match if we exclude the first part of the decider.
I'm disappointed about how it went, but I left it all out there, just like Novak. I was ridiculously unlucky when I lost serve for the second time in the final set, but it happens sometimes. Novak is the world's leading player, and he showed that tonight.
Physically, I felt fine and had strength for more. Still, that second break in the final set cost me dearly, and Novak made the difference with his initial shot on break chances, offering me almost no opportunities; that made the difference tonight.
Novak found a massive serve every time he needed it. Based on form, Novak and I are among the world's three leading players, and matches between the rivals like us constantly go back and forth. I fought back and left my all out there.
I lost in those crucial moments, but I still kept Novak on the court for three and a half hours; I took him a very long way. It could have gone both ways," Alexander Zverev said.