Following what can only be considered as a dream week in Hamburg, German wildcard Alexander Zverev will be faced with the toughest test of his young career when he steps across the net from top seed David Ferrer on Saturday afternoon. Zverev will have the unwavering support of his countrymen in the crowd, yet he will need to summon the same strength that helped him overcome his previous four matches to simply be competitive against the resilient Ferrer. A win here would not only send Zverev to the final of an ATP World Tour 500 event, but it would likely make him an instant star and a name to watch out for in the coming months and years.
Following two consecutive three set battles to begin his week in Hamburg, world No. 7 David Ferrer broke the trend and cruised through his quarter-final contest against Pablo Andujar 6-0, 6-2 in 66 minutes. The Spaniard won 68 percent of his first service points and converted 4 of 10 break point opportunities during the contest.
While Zverev is currently ranked at No. 285, he played with the confidence of a player in the Top 50, as he began his week with a comfortable victory over Robin Haase. His second match against Youzhny was slightly tougher on the young German, but he eventually pulled through unscathed for a 7-5, 7-5 victory in two hours time. It was the first time a 17 year old had beaten a Top 20 player on the ATP World Tour in more than 10 years.
Zverev was then faced with even more adversity, as he failed to serve out the match against Santiago Giraldo with a break advantage. Although he would be forced to contest a tiebreaker, Zverev showed the necessary composure and closed out the contest without needing a deciding set. He followed up on Friday with yet another straight sets victory, this time over a player he was previously accustomed to, Tobias Kamke.
According to ATPWorldTour.com, Zverev is the first 17-year-old to reach the quarter-finals at an ATP World Tour 500 tournament since Rafael Nadal reached that stage of the 2004 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. He has now surpassed that record by reaching the semi-final round of an ATP 500 tournament.
This will mark the first time that these two competitors will cross paths on the professional tour and will serve as an entertaining feature contest for the Hamburg crowd on Saturday. Most will be behind their countryman, the 17-year-old who has taken the bet-at-home Open by storm this week, Alexander Zverev. While the German qualifier has made some remarkable strides over the pas few days, he will be faced with undoubtedly his toughest test yet against Ferrer.
If there is a time to topple the Spaniard it would be now, as he has not been in relatively strong form so far this season, and that may leave the necessary opening for a staggering upset on Saturday.
Prediction: Alexander Zverev in Three Sets