With the Australian Open set to begin in less than two weeks, names such as Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray will be back in the spotlight in the men’s singles draw. Another name to keep in mind in the days leading up to the January 16 start date is that of Alexander Zverev, who’s currently ranked 24th in the ATP World Tour rankings. Wednesday evening Zverev defeated Federer in a MasterCard Hopman Cup match in Perth, Australia, with Federer working his way back after missing the second half of last season as a result of knee and back injuries.
Here’s what you need to know about the 19-year old Zverev.
1. All Three Sets Required a Tiebreaker
The Hopman Cup is played annually just before the Australian Open, and it’s a team competition with eight different nations being represented. Both Zverev (Germany) and Federer (Switzerland) were playing their third match of the event, with both playing singles and mixed doubles matches on Monday. Zverev’s 7-6 (1), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4) victory was hard-fought, which isn’t a surprise given how their prior two meetings played out. Federer’s inability to close out the first set when ahead 5-3 opened the door for Zverev to claim the opening set, which he did by winning the tiebreaker 7-1. Federer rebounded to claim the second set, with Zverev using his serve to win the third and decisive set.
2. This Was Zverev’s Second Career Victory Over Federer
Wednesday’s meeting was the third time that Federer and Zverev have met competitively, with both prior meetings taking place last year. Their first meeting occurred in the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Rome, with Federer winning the round of 32 match in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5. Unlike the Hopman Cup match, which was played on hard court, the first meeting between Zverev and Federer was played on a clay court.
Their second meeting came in last year’s Gerry Weber Open in Germany (grass court), with Zverev winning in three sets. Zverev won the first set of the semifinal, 7-6 (4), with Federer rebounding to win the second set 7-5. In the decisive third set Zverev came out on top, 6-3, to advance to the final where he would lose in three sets to Florian Mayer.
3. The 19-Year Old Zverev is Ranked 24th in the World
Still a teenager, the 6-foot-6 Zverev is viewed as a rising star in world tennis. He finished the 2016 season ranked 24th in the ATP’s world rankings, and Zverev is the lone teenager in the Top 25. He’s also the youngest player in the top 75 of the ATP rankings, and following their match Wednesday Federer spoke highly of Zverev.
“Every month that goes by you see him adding something more to his game,” said according to Linda Pearce of the Sydney Morning Herald. “He’s becoming more and more consistent, though that’s what you kind of expect from a young guy. I think he’s got a wonderful future ahead of him if he keeps working hard and says injury-free, which I believe he will. He’s definitely going to be one to watch for another decade or so.”
4. Zverev Earned His First Career Tournament Victory in 2016
2016 was a good year for Zverev, nicknamed “Sascha,” as he continued his climb up the ATP rankings. Zverev moved into the top 50 in the April 25 edition of the ATP rankings, moving from 51st to 49th, and the rise up the rankings continued until the end of the season. Zverev also won his first-ever tournament title last season, as he took home the St. Petersburg Open trophy after defeating Stan Wawrinka in the final. Zverev, who won the final three sets, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, ended Wawrinka’s 11-match win streak with the victory.
Zverev received 250 ATP Tour points and $171,245 as a result of the tournament victory. Ranked as high as 20th last season, Zverev reached the final of four tournaments. Zverev has won $1,932,630 in his career to date, counting both singles and doubles competitions.
5. Zverev Comes From a Family Heavily Involved in Tennis
It’s been a family affair for Zverev when it comes to tennis, as he began playing at just five years old. Sascha is coached by his father, Alexander, who was a professional tennis player, and his mother Irena is also a tennis coach. Zverev’s older brother Mischa, who ended the 2016 season ranked 51st in the ATP world rankings, has been playing on the ATP Tour since 2005. Mischa, who has yet to win a title as a professional, has won $2,635,866 in prize money during his career.
The Zverev family moved from Russia to Germany in 1997, with Sascha being born in Hamburg on April 20, 1997. In 2015, the younger Zverev received the ATP Star of Tomorrow award as a result of his being the youngest player ranked in the top 100 of the ATP world rankings. According to his ATP Tour bio, Zverev idolized Federer as a youngster and counts Dwyane Wade as his favorite basketball player.