Here is Why Alexander Zverev Will Become World No.1 - UBITENNIS
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Here is Why Alexander Zverev Will Become World No.1

A technical analysis of Alexander Zverev’s game and full assessment on potential. We explain why tennis has found its future World No.1 in the German and why Zverev could be an improved tennis version of Marat Safin.

Ivan Pasquariello

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Original article by Luca Baldissera for UbiTennis.com

 

Translation by Ivan Pasquariello

 

After both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal – who saved a match point against the German in their 4th round clash in Indian Wells – have praised Alexander Zverev, pointing out he could be the new upcoming World No.1, we decided to take into account the champions’ prediction and analyze Zverev’s game. Does he really have the potential to reach the top spot of the rankings in men’s tennis? Is he a near future Grand Slam winner? Let’s analyze the German’s game and see why, according to our technician, Alexander Zverev will indeed become World No.1.

“He’s a clear possible future No.1. He is an amazing player. He has all the shots has said Rafael Nadal. Roger Federer has invited Zverev more than once to practice with him, most recently at the Australian Open. Djokovic confirmed in California that the German has what it takes to climb up the ladder soon. Let’s have a closer look at Alexander’s shots to fully understand why he deserves such high praising from such champions.

HIS CONSISTENCY and MENTAL TOUGHNESS

Compared to the rest of the field of young guns, Alexander has those qualities no coach can teach, but that come natural, such as the attitude to stay aggressive on the ball, the ability to verticalize the game, the skill of cutting the court cross court to push the offence. Also the ability to play the points that matter with calm (even though the match point missed with Nadal could tell the contrary, but that has to do more with a lack of experience rather than fear).

Zverev has the consistency needed to climb the rankings, not just in his game but also mentally. For instance, Nick Kyrgios has the shots and the talent to win a major, but it seems hard to think and believe that he will be able to keep his mind straight and focused on the game for a full season without drops. Zverev, on the other hand, may count on the help coming from having a former top 50 player as his brother (Misha) and has the attitude that is needed from a player to stay on the top once that height is reached.

THE BACKHAND

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Here (on the top) is Zverev’s backhand on the aggression. It is an example to take: the combination of continental-eastern grip; the perfect rotation of the left foot followed by a powerful shift to the right foot; great roundness; the weight that moves horizontally following the level of the knees into the ball; the shoulders rotating exactly at 90 degrees; the shot that is accompanied in the final part staying in line with the court; closing with the heel of the racket that looks in the direction of the shot just hit.

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Zverev can hit a very good sliced backhand (picture above) when he needs it. This shot helps appreciate how low he can go, while keeping his axis balanced even when recovering laterally. Descent of the head of the racket just perfect, end of the movement horizontally vertical, with the left arm acting symmetrically to the right one. Finally, great lunge with the knees. In this case the ball is just 30 cm (12 inches) from the ground, Zverev is 2 meters tall (6 ft 6 in) but manages to easily slice it.

THE FOREHAND

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The forehand hit above, Zverev hits a forehand pushing vertically. Semi-open stance, western grip, support on both feet with weight shifting from the right foot onto the left. It has to be noticed the ability to use the left arm to sustain and accompany the racket, which is kept vertically to use the whole oval, all the way until the start of the backswing. On the central frame on the top part of the photo, the moment the racket is let go of to go behind, the support is on the right foot, with the left foot lifted on the tip. In the central frame below in the pic, which represents the moment the ball is impacted, all the weight is unloaded on the left foot  and is the right foot to be lifted off the ground, following the hit and knee.

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In the picture above the forehand is in open stance, maneuvering from the baseline. In he top left frame once again the moment the left arm leaves the racket to help set the backswing, both feet are still falling back from the positioning step. Subsequently with the finishing of the preparation, the weight falls strong on the right foot. The left foot is initially dragged and from the hitting point on (the three bottom frames) is lifted compensating for the action of the right hip and right knee to then go down only with the conclusion of the movement in windshield wiper. Alexander doesn’t hit with full lift when semi-flanked, then easily finds the shot down the line. Otherwise he doesn’t lose on top spin, fully in open stance, with the same ease. Quite impressive to say the least.

THE SERVE

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On the picture above we focus on the preparation to serve. The technique is foot-up, with the little step forward of the back foot. In the central frame, in the moment the ball is tossed the support is on the left foot, and the right foot is starting to be brought forward with a slight rotation of the tip, up to the point where it hits the frontal foot with the heel.

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Right after having touched with the heel, the back foot bounces back, rotating this time internally going to lean in parallel with the left foot. After that (central frame) Zverev brings the right knee forward towards the left while the ankle starts its exiting movement. This happens in advance compared to the shoulders’ rotation, which stay open all while getting to ”trophy position”. He acts like an elastic, very similar to what Karlovic does, working a lot with the shoulders and less with the bending of the back. He can afford to do that thank to his height.

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Here above the conclusion of the movement. The wrist is fast in its pronation onto the forearm. There is the perfect alignment between arm-racket, hip and left foot in the moment of impact. It is a great serve.

Finally it is interesting to take a look at this video, shot at the US Open. This video shows Alexander’s perfect footwork.

THE FINAL PREDICTION

We have a 19-year-old boy who hits and pushes the ball with incredible ease, while remaining calm and focused on court. He has an incredible footwork. He works hard and has a perfect visual on the court. It will take time to build up the muscles, together with the incorporation in his game of the ability to move forward to take points at the net (the only aspect missing in his game at the moment). Then, here you have an authentic champion, someone who can win majors in a row.

He reminds of Marat Safin for his timing, ability to push the ball and hit with the backhand. Unlike Marat though, he has the ability to keep calm and never lose focus on the match.

A future World No.1? Possibly, probably….

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US Open Must Allow Entourages Of Three Or Four People, Says Thiem

The world No.3 says he is feeling good ahead of the return of professional tennis next month.

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Dominic Thiem has come out against proposals to restrict the number of coaching staff that can travel to this year’s US Open amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

This year’s New York major will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history and will be implementing a series of measures to help minimise the threat posed by the virus. Part of their plan is to limit how many people a player can bring with them to the tournament. It was originally reported that only one team member per player would be allowed to travel, but it has emerged that the limit has since been extended to three.

Speaking about the limits, three-time Grand Slam finalist Thiem said the idea of only allowing one member of his team to travel with him would be a risk for some players on the Tour.

*”I do not think so. Three or four people must be allowed. It would be extremely risky to travel without your own physio. You need a local coach for this,’ Thiem told The Kronen Zeitung newspaper on Sunday.

Thiem last played a match on the ATP Tour at the Rio Open in February where he lost in the quarter-finals. However, throughout the lockdown he has still managed to maintain his match fitness by participating in numerous tournaments. In total he has played 24 matches across three different countries, including one named after him called Thiems 7.

“Right now I feel very good,” he said. “I have played a lot of exhibition games in the last two months and I am not tired at all. I really wanted to play tennis again, since my start of the year was very good.’
“During This period of confinement at home I have been crushing myself a lot in the physical aspect and already when I returned to training. I have decided to improve the backhand and the serve a little more.”

The ATP Tour will resume next month with Thiem hoping that he can continue his form generated from earlier this year. At the Australian Open he reached the final for the first time in his career before getting edged out by Novak Djokovic. Although when he returns, tournaments will not be the same as before due to the ongoing pandemic with strict safety measures and reduced crowds in place.

“When the circuit returns, the matches will be exactly the same as we had previously, but the atmosphere will be different,” he said.
“All tennis players will miss playing tournaments where many people travelled to see us every day. In New York, Paris or Melbourne there are between 60,000 and 70,000 people every day in the facilities. That previous life we ​​had will not be the same and we may have to get used to this new normal for a few years.”

Thiem is one of only four men to have already made more than $1 million in prize money so far this year on the ATP Tour.

*NOTE: Since the publication of this article quotes have been edited following a translation mix-up.

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Nick Kyrgios Slams Thiem Over Defence Of Controversy-Stricken Adria Tour

The world No.40 has accused the Austrian of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to understand his view.

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Australian star Nick Kyrgios has continued his public criticism of the Adria Tour by taking aim at two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem.

 

The 25-year-old has repeatedly hit out at the exhibition event, which Thiem participated in. Organised by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, the event took place in Belgrade and Zadar before it was scrapped following an outbreak of COVID-19 among both players and coaching staff. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric all got infected. The outbreak came after the Adria Tour was criticised for a lack of social distancing and players attended various public events together. Although at the time, all of their actions were done in accordance with local regulations. Something the Serbian Prime Minister now admits was a mistake.

However, Thiem has called out Kyrgios over his vocal criticism of fellow Adria Tour competitor Alexander Zverev. The German attended a party in southern France less than a week after the COVID-19 outbreak despite issuing a statement saying he would go into self-isolation.

“It was his mistake, but I don’t why a lot of people want to interfere. Kyrgios has done a lot of mistakes. It would be better for him to come clear instead of criticising others,” Thiem told Tiroler Tageszeitung.

Continuing to defend the actions of his fellow players, Thiem also jumped to the defence of Djokovic. Who has been under heavy criticism over the event with some going as far as questioning his position as president of the ATP Players Council.

“He didn’t commit a crime. We all make mistakes, but I don’t understand all the criticism. I’ve been to Nice and also saw pictures from other cities. It’s no different from Belgrade during the tournament. It’s too cheap to shoot at Djokovic.”

The comments have now been blasted by Kyrgios, who stands by his previous criticism of players. Accusing Thiem of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to see his point of view.

“What are you talking about @ThiemDomi? Mistakes like smashing rackets? Swearing? Tanking a few matches here or there? Which everyone does?” Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.
“None of you have the intellectual level to even understand where I’m coming from. I’m trying to hold them accountable.”
“People losing lives, loved ones and friends, and then Thiem standing up for the ‘mistake,'” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide and some players have voiced concerns over travelling to America which has recently seen a rise in cases. On Wednesday Alexi Popyrin became the first player to say he won’t play the US Open due to health concerns.

The ATP Tour is set to resume next month but it is unclear as to what events Thiem and Kyrgios will be playing in.

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Roger Federer Eyeing Olympic Glory At The Age Of 39 In 2021

The Swiss tennis star isn’t ready to step away from the sport just yet.

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20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has vowed to play at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo after undergoing two surgeries on his knee.

 

The former world No.1 hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January. Since then he had twice undergone arthroscopic surgeries which is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to diagnose and treat problems with the joints. Federer announced shortly after having the procedure done for a second time that he will not be returning to the Tour again this year.

Despite the setbacks, the 38-year-old has vowed to return to action at the start of 2021 with Olympic glory one of his main targets. He is already a two-time Olympic medallist after winning gold in the men’s doubles back in 2008 followed by silver in the singles draw at the 2012 London Games.

“My goal is to play Tokyo 2021. It’s a wonderful city. I met my wife in my first Olympics in 2000. It’s a special event for me,” Federer said on Monday during the launch of ‘The Roger’ shoe with Swiss brand ON.
“I had two surgeries and I can’t hit at the moment, but I’m very confident I will be totally ready for 2021.
“I do miss playing in front of the fans, no doubt. Now, I think if tennis comes back we know it won’t be in a normal way where we can have full crowds yet.”

Federer will be 39 when he returns to action, but is yet to speculate as to when he may close the curtain on his record-breaking career. He is currently the second oldest man in the top 200 on the ATP Tour after Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic, who is 41.

Besides the Olympics, the Swiss Maestro is also setting his eye on Wimbledon where he has claimed the men’s title a record eight times. However, he hasn’t won a major title since the 2018 Australian Open. The Grass-court major has been cancelled this year for the first time since 1945 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of course I miss Wimbledon, of course I would like to be there currently playing on Centre Court for a place in the second week,” he said.
“Clearly, one of my big goals, and that’s why I do recovery work every day and work so hard, and why I’m preparing for a 20-week physical preparation block this year, is because I hope to play at Wimbledon next year.”

Even though he is not playing for the rest of the year, Federer incredibly still has a chance of qualifying for the ATP Finals due to recent changes in the rankings calculations. Due to the pandemic, players are now allowed to use their best results at 18 tournaments based on a 22-month period instead of 12 months. Something that could enable him to remain inside the top eight until the end of 2020 depending on how his rivals fair.

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