January 05, 2020
He had it all: talent, good looks and a chance to be the world No 1. But then Alexander Zverev’s life went to pieces…
After the fall: can Alexander Zverev bounce back to tennis stardom?
The tennis player Alexander Zverev has blue eyes and shaggy blond hair and is 6ft 7in tall. His legs are stilts, and his face, journalists have pointed out, is that of an Abercrombie & Fitch model. Zverev actually has a modelling contract with Zegna, the Italian fashion brand, partly because he is a well-known tennis player, but also because he looks less like a tennis player and more like a luxury clothes horse.
Zverev is 22. He joined the pro circuit in 2013, when he was 16. At the end of 2018, he was ranked the fourth best men’s tennis player in the world, behind Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer – the big three – but ahead of younger challengers. He’d recently won the ATP Finals, in London, the so-called fifth grand slam, becoming the youngest player to win the tournament in a decade. As a kid he’d been the world junior No 1 and a junior grand slam champion. For years, fans had thought of him as tennis’s crown prince – the prodigal heir. Both Nadal and Djokovic had hinted at Zverev becoming their eventual successor. Here, finally, after the failed attempts of other once up-and-coming players, was a talent poised to dethrone the game’s elder greats. At the end of one 2018 tournament, Boris Becker announced: “A star has arrived.”
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