Sascha breaks new ground once again
“I choked,” admitted Alexander Zverev in a three-set round-robin defeat by Jack Sock at last year’s ATP Finals. That loss curtailed Sascha’s 2017 season in a wrath of frustration.
Well 12 months on, the lack of perceived Grand Slam success still hangs over the German, but Zverev barked back at his critics with a canny 7-6(5), 6-3 passage past John Isner on Friday.
This time the 21-year-old booked his semi-final ticket, which is just reward for a soaring talent at tail end of another fine campaign.
It could also provide further proof that his coaching partnership with Ivan Lendl, which began in mid-August, is baring fruition.
“Sascha is very passionate about this game. He looks always for ways to improve. He's still relatively young. Already a top three player of the world a couple years in a row,” stated Novak Djokovic, defending the development of his ATP Finals title rival.
“He's playing at the very high level. It just takes a little bit more to really find that balance and find that extra level that he needs to win slams. But he's definitely on the good path. Having Lendl can only serve him as an incentive for an improvement.”
Lendl, an eight-time Grand Slam champion, worked wonders with Andy Murray’s mental fortitude to bring Major accolades and it appears the working relationship with Zverev is flourishing.
“If you're going to be strict with me with rules and stuff, the relationship is not going to last very long,” said Sascha with a smile. “He (Lendl) understood that very quickly, I think.
Dismissing Marin Cilic and Isner in the round robin format at the O2 Arena has earned Sascha a semi-final showdown with Roger Federer.
It will be another flashback to 2017 for the German, as Federer prevailed 6-1 in the deciding set against Zverev in last year’s round robin clash.
“It's obviously great getting to the semi-finals. But the tournament isn't over,” insisted the ambitious Zverev. “There's only the best in the world. I'm playing Roger, which is going to be a very difficult. On this surface he's an unbelievable player.We'll see how far I can go.”