Zverev first of the Next Gen to win a Masters title, Djokovic confirms Agassi partnership for French Open


By Ros Satar, in Rome

  • Alexander Zverev[16] def. Novak Djokovic [2] 6-4 6-3
  • Djokovic announces that Andre Agassi will be joining his team for Paris
ROME, ITALY – Alexander Zverev becomes the first ATP Next Gen player to win a Masters event after easing past last year’s finalist Novak Djokovic in straight sets.



Alexander Zverev[16] def. Novak Djokovic [2] 6-4 6-3

Throughout the week all eyes had been on the top names, some who had been struggling, some who had been dominant, and in all reality the expectation was that te big names would prevail as the Road to Roland Garros beckons.

One by one though, they fell by the wayside – Dominic Thiem taking out Madrid champion Rafael Nadal, before running out of steam completely in his semi-final against Novak Djokovic.

The less we say about Andy Murray’s lead up to Roland Garros the better, but for the second time in a row we saw one of the younger chasing pack coming up and making his mark.

Alexander Zverev had been tested at the start – dropping a set in his first round with Kevin Anderson, and again in the big-serving competition against John Isner. It was always going to be about his serve in this competition. Djokovic has clearly been playing better as the clay court season has gone on, and many thought he would reclaim the title here.

Novak Djokovic – 2017 Internazionali BNL d’Italia Masters (c) Christopher Johnson

From the get-go nothing seemed to work for Djokovic. The wind was whipping up throughout the match, and Zverev’s serving was on point, as Djokovic admitted in his post-match press conference.

“He served very well. I just couldn’t — conditions were completely different. Haven’t played a day match for three, four days already. Just a lot of wind and just very fast and bouncing.

“Yesterday was no wind and slow and just — I just couldn’t find the proper rhythm, proper positioning on the court. He used it.

“I made a lot of unforced errors. Started the match very poorly. Lost the break. Of course, against a big server like that, he gets a lot of confidence in his game. Basically from the beginning, it wasn’t the right match for me.”

Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev – 2017 Internazionali BNL d’Italia Masters (c) Christopher Johnson

Zverev’s decision to receive paid off early with the immediate break, and from that point Djokovic always seemed to be on the back foot.

Zverev said: “Against someone like Novak, it’s always very tough to get into rallies. Maybe I thought maybe if he’s a bit cold, he’ll give me one or two unforced errors in the beginning which can help me to break him.

“So all tournament I served quite well, so I was quite comfortable on my serve. It was more a question if I could break him. I wanted to get a shot from the beginning, so it worked out well.”

The win also puts Zverev right in the mix as he joins the Top 10, something that he had his eye on from a young age, until reality hit.

“You know, when I was about 11, 12, I thought by the age of 20 I’d probably win about four Slams already (smiling). Then when I was 16, everything started to be more realistic. I could not imagine top 10 by the age of 20. You know, it’s also my early 20s. I just became 20.

“It’s something truly amazing. I think staying in top 10 will be very difficult, as well, because other guys like David Goffin and other players will want to break into the top 10. So getting there is one thing. Staying there is going to be very, very difficult.”


Andre Agassi to join Djokovic’s team for Paris

Midway through the match Sky Italy announced it had been confirmed that Djokovic would be working with Andre Agassi – Djokovic had hoped to announce something before or during Roland Garros.

“I spoke to Andre the last couple weeks on the phone, and we decided to get together in Paris. So he’s gonna be there. We’ll see what future brings.

“We are both excited to work together and see where it takes us. We don’t have any long-term commitment. It’s just us trying to get to know each other in Paris a little bit.

“He will not stay the whole tournament. He’s gonna stay only to a certain time, and then we’ll, you know, see after that what’s gonna happen.”


The French Open takes place from the 28 May to 11 June.

Featured Image Credit: Christopher Johnson