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Alexander Zverev

They say remember the name, but this particular name you might already recall.

The name is Alexander Zverev, but not the former Soviet Union Davis Cup player - rather it is his youngest son by the same name that you should keep your eye on.

The 16-year-old, commonly known as Sascha, finished 2013 as the highest-ranked junior boy in the world.

German-born after his parents relocated from Moscow in 1991, the younger Zverev has started 2014 in a strong fashion.

After reaching the second round of qualifying for the ATP event in Auckland, he claimed the title at the AGL Loy Yang Traralgon Junior International without dropping a set.

His success should come as no surprise with his family having an undeniable tennis pedigree. 

Beyond his father’s career, his mother Irina was a Fed Cup representative, and since finishing their careers both have moved into the coaching ranks.

Additionally, old brother Mischa attained a career-high ranking of No.45 in 2009 before being setback by persistent injuries. He is fit now, and looking to move up the ranks after falling to 175th in the world.

But the youngest member of the family feels that the experience of his family is a benefit not a burden.

“They have all been through that, so it is good for me,” said Zverev.

As the number one junior, also comes the pressure of being touted as the next big thing.

But Zverev says he hasn't heard much talk of being a huge prospect.

“They don’t say it to my face.”

“I know I (have) got talent, but I think everybody here has talent, everybody knows how to play, everybody knows how to hit the ball,” said a philosophical Zverev.

On Tuesday the world number one junior advanced to the third round of the Australian Open boys’ singles, overcoming Japanese qualifier Ryotero Matsumura 4-6 6-2 9-7.

It wasn’t the most complete performance, but one that encapsulated the good and bad of a raw teenager.

The good, an array of powerful strokes, strong groundwork, positive advances to the net, and six aces when his serve came off.

The bad, 11 double faults, and frustration which simmered from early in the match before boiling over into a point violation as he smashed a ball out of Court 20 after falling behind 6-7 in the deciding set.

He also was facing a warrior-like opponent, with Matsumura rarely giving up on any point, in a match which extended to nearly three hours.

In the end, complete performance or not, Zverev prevailed in a marathon 80-minute final set after reeling off three consecutive games to recover from 3-5 down only to almost blow it once more.

“I don’t think the whole match went the way I expected it to go”

“It’s the second round so I’m not worried about that yet, so I hope I can come out tomorrow and play a little bit better than today,” said Zverev of his performance against the Japanese qualifier.

No matter how, Zverev now continues his Australian Open campaign, as he improves on last year’s first round effort.

Beyond that, the German’s path is an unknown, as he looks to advance from juniors and take the next step in his career.

“I don’t know how much I’ll play this year, but I’m not sure I’ll play next year at all,” said Zverev about his time playing juniors.

What he does know is that he still has plenty of work to do, especially when asked about the strongest part of his game.

“I served 13 double faults today so I can’t say its my serve, but on a good day, maybe my serve, on a good day.”

It was only 11 double faults, but one thing is for sure, at 195cm, with expansive reach and impressive power, Zverev is a player that will test his opponents for years to come.

Zverev’s next match is against Brazilian Marcelo Zormann da Silva on Wednesday.

Sunday, 28 December 2014
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