Stefan Kozlov: I completely fell off mountain while Alexander Zverev kept rising

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Stefan Kozlov: I completely fell off mountain while Alexander Zverev kept rising

Stefan Kozlov, 23, hasn't given up on his dream of becoming a top player as he wants to get to the top and compete again against players like Alexander Zverev. Kozlov enjoyed a successful junior career, having made two Grand Slam finals in 2014.

In the 2014 Australian Open boys' singles final, Kozlov lost to Zverev. Zverev turned into a great player, while Kozlov hasn't yet broken into the top-100. "From Alexander Zverev to Reilly Opelka, I grew up with those guys, but I completely fell off the mountain while they kept rising.

I'm still very far off from them, but that's my goal, to compete with those guys again. That's what drives me. It would be a pretty cool story," Kozlov told the ATP Challenger website.

Kozlov trending in the right direction

Kozlov has made three Challenger finals over the last two months and captured two titles.

"It's been a long, long process. Like I said a couple days ago in an interview, it's a lot of losses and hard times. I know there are many people out there with bigger problems than I have, but for me I went through many issues - life issues - and I just came out stronger.

I take the lessons with every defeat and the last couple months I've put myself around some very knowledgable people, who have helped me to figure out my strengths and weaknesses," Kozlov explained. Kozlov, ranked at No.

188 in the world, insists he is not lacking motivation at the moment. "Mental is a big part of it. Fitness is at a high level for me, but I have a long way to go with it. Just playing in the high heat moments in Florida or Australia.

It's going to be the next step for sure. Mentally, it's just being more angry. I'm coming out here now and trying to rip your head off. I'm establishing myself and in the past I would let off the gas too early. These guys are all good and it's more or less a UFC fight in a way. That's helped me be at my best," Kozlov said.