LONDON: Novak Djokovic says he sees similarities in Alexander Zverev’s progression with his own career and believes the German is capable of exceeding his achievements in the sport.
Zverev belied his relative inexperience to produce a stunning performance to defeat the world No 1 6-4 6-3 in the final of the ATP Finals and win the biggest title of his career.
The 21-year-old becomes the youngest winner of the season-ending tournament since Djokovic won in 2008 when the event was held in Shanghai and the Serb is impressed by his younger counterpart.
“There’s a lot of similarities in terms of trajectory of professional tennis, in our careers,” 14-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic said.
“Hopefully he can surpass me. I sincerely wish him that. He seems like someone that is very dedicated. Without a doubt, he’s a really nice person, someone that gets along very well with everyone.
“He deserves everything he gets so far. There’s a lot of time ahead of him. I wish him to stay healthy and obviously win a lot of titles.”
Djokovic won the 2008 Australian Open for his maiden Grand Slam title aged 20 while Zverev only reached the quarter-finals of a major for the first time at this year’s French Open, but Djokovic insists he sees no reason why the German will not win a major.
When asked whether Zverev’s performance meant the German was likely to win a Grand Slam, Djokovic said: “We knew that before already, so it doesn’t make any difference tonight.
“Of course, he won a huge tournament, but he always had quality to win a Slam,” he said.
“There’s no doubt he will be one of the favourites at every Slam.”
Zverev became only the fifth active player – joining Rafael Nadal, Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray – to hold three or more Masters 1000 titles after his victory at the Madrid Open in May.
Djokovic, who like Zverev lives and trains in Monte-Carlo, suffered only his third defeat since the start of Wimbledon and suggested his efforts in the latter stages of the season had caught up with him.
“Health-wise I haven’t been really perfect in the last three, four weeks. That took a lot out of me,” Djokovic added.
“But at the same time I played finals of [Paris Masters] and here. I have to be happy with that result. Of course, finishing the year as No 1, that was the goal coming into the indoor season. I managed to achieve that.
“Overall it was a phenomenal season that I have to be definitely very proud of.”