The German young sensation Alexander Zverev, who stole everyone’s hearts with his spectacular performances in 2017 and 2018, hasn't been able find his best tennis in 2019 so far. It's been a bit of a start-stop affair for the young German, who is a special talent but at times gives an impression of a spoiled brat, breaking his racquet on the courts as he struggles to control his anger and emotions.
He has failed to even win a single tournament in 2019, and has made just one final appearance, losing to Australian Nick Kyrgios at the Mexican Open finale in Acapulco. Following a forgettable experience at the ‘Sunshine Double’, Zverev would be supremely motivated to make an impression at the start of the clay season.
Zverev has decided to play at Grand Prix Hassan II for the first time ever in his career, and he enters the tournament as No. 1 seed as well. This tournament can help the young and tall German to spend some crucial time in the middle on the red dirt and make himself comfortable on clay before things start to get heated up at the Monte Carlo Masters next week.
The likes of Fabio Fognini, Kyle Edmund and Fernando Verdasco have the potential to put Zverev under the pump at the Marrakech Open. But with the his previous experience of winning titles at the Rome and Madrid ATP Masters in 2017 and 2018 respectively, the 21-year old German starts as the firm favourite to lift the title here on Sunday.
Here’s his probable route to the final:
1st round vs Denis Istomin
After receiving a wildcard entry into the tournament just like the No. 2 seed Fognini and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Zverev makes his debut at the Marrakech Open against Uzbek player Denis Istomin.
This seems to be an easy start for the German as Istomin has been having a rough year so far, haunted by injuries and lackluster performances. You expect Zverev to move along smoothly to the 2nd round.
2nd Round vs Jaume Munar
Jaume Munar, who is of the same age as Alexander Zverev, is a promising talent and well-suited to playing on clay which traditionally suits Spaniards. But it is hard to imagine Zverev losing to this emerging prospect whose biggest win this year has been at the Argentina Open, defeating Fognini in their Round of 16 match.
If not in two sets, Zverev should seal the deal against the Spaniard in three and progress into the quarterfinals.
Quarterfinal vs Benoit Paire
A potential quarter-final opponent in Benoit Paire appears to be Zverev’s first tricky encounter in the tournament. Though it seems unlikely that Paire can go all the way and upset Zverev, the Frenchman has the potential to give the top seed a run for his money. We should also remember that clay suits Paire too.
Semifinal vs Edmund / Tsonga
Though Tsonga and Edmund are expected to clash against each other as early as the 2nd round, a semi-final clash against either of them can be challenging for Zverev. While Britain’s No. 1 Edmund is quite methodical and disciplined in his approach, Tsonga can be breathtaking and unstoppable on his day.
We have followed Tsonga enough for many years to know about his ability and attitude and his habit of being a giant killer. Zverev will really have to play out of his skin if he has to clash against either him or Edmund at the peak of their prowess.
Final vs Fognini
If this happens, it would be a dream final for tennis enthusiasts in Morocco who would come out in huge numbers to witness the tennis spectacle between the top two seeds. There are few opponents as tricky and as underrated as Fognini, especially on clay.
On his day, the Italian can make the best of the best look ordinary, just as he stunned the then defending champion Andy Murray in straight sets at the Italian Open in 2017.
If he faces an upbeat Fognini at the finals, Zverev will not only have to be at the top of his game but also be innovative, agricultural and aggressive in his shot-making.