He is one of the few royalties of the sporting world. But tennis champion Roger Federer has not just given his time and heart to the game, he has also made time to inspire the next generation of young players. German wonder kid Alexander Zverev was one such player who gained inspiration from the words of the great Roger Federer.
He is currently having a great season. The 21-year-old German has enjoyed a remarkable few months, reaching three Masters 1000 finals and winning a third title at that level in Madrid.
But he did have to fight for his place as the clay court grand slam progressed. After a comfortable first-round win at Roland Garros, Zverev was pushed all the way by Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic in a match that lasted the best part of three-and-a-half hours.
But the talented young German dug deep to produce some scintillating comeback. Despite being 2-1 down, Zverev clawed his way back and ensured he matched his best run in Paris.
Federer to the rescue. Following the victory, Zverev discussed a conversation he had with Federer after a third-round Australian Open exit earlier this year and he suggested it has helped his state of mind on the biggest stage.
‘He said some encouraging things,’ Zverev said. ‘He told me a story about how he never made it past quarters until he was, what, 23 years old or something like that. So I still have a little bit of time.
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If he heard this from the Best tennis player ever to swing a racket, then all hope is not lost.
‘Hearing that from the greatest player of all time is, you know, comforting, because you always think, “Oh, if I’m not going to win this one, I’m never going to win one”.
‘And he’s the greatest player of all time. He’s never passed a quarter until he was 23. Just hearing that, just knowing that it’s all okay, it’s not the end of the world.
At 21 years old, Zverev is one of the few young tennis players looking to replace Federer as he reaches the twilight of his career.