Zverev getting to new heights with his semifinals win over Cilic

by: Matt Cronin | May 19, 2018

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Alexander Zverev is one win away from defending his Italian Open title. (AP)

The No. 3 Alexander Zverev says that players are getting taller and hitting harder, and he's been leading the way. 

The German, who just won Madrid to capture his third Masters title, is now into the final of Rome, where he will play No.2 Rafael Nadal.

The top 10 players Zverev, Marin Cilic, and Juan Martin del Potro are 6'6", while 6'8" Kevin Anderson is No. 7 and 6'10" John Isner is No. 9 in the rankings.

“I think tennis is getting bigger and more powerful. And obviously, we all hit the ball very hard,” the 21-year-old Zverev said. “Of course, we're missing Andy [Murray] and Novak [Djokovic] a little bit in that top nine, because they've been injured a little bit and they're on their way back. So, we're missing Stan [Wawrinka], as well, who're all a little bit shorter than us.

"But I think that's the way tennis is going. I think the young guys are all pretty big, all pretty powerful. And I think that's the direction the game is going.”

WATCH: Match point from Zverev's win over Cilic in the Rome semifinals:

Amongst the other younger players in the top 32, 23-year-old Nick Kyrgios is 6'4", 21-year-old Hyeon Chung is 6'2", 20-year-old Andrey Rublev is 6'2" and teenager Denis Shapovalov is 6"0'. There is also 21-year-old Karen Khachanov, who is 6'6" and 6'4" teenager Stefanos Tsitsipas.

While before taller players were not known as good movers, Cilic says that has changed.
"But today, you can have, you know, players like del Potro, even like Anderson or even like Isner,  [or] that are, you know, as tall as them and... obviously can move still well,and hit all different shots on good level," said Cilic, who fell to Zverev in the semifinals of Rome. "So that's, I think, a big improvement for the game, as well."

Zverev will enter the French Open as the No. 2 seed behind Nadal, because the No. 1 Federer is not playing the tournament.  While he says that he's moving up behind them in the rankings, he's still a long way from having the following of legends like Federer and Nadal.

“I think winning helps. I think when you're No. 3 in the world, people like you more than when you're 70 or 80 in the world, that's for sure,” Zverev said. “But, I mean,  Federer and Nadal are great sportsmen. They're great outside the court. I mean, especially Federer, what he does outside the court with his foundation and everything else, is awesome. 

"But still they're loved for what they do on court. They're loved because they are the two greatest players maybe of all time. I'm No. 3 in the world but I'm very, very far away from that.”

ATP Rome (5/13 - 5/20)

-Tennis Channel Plus features five courts of live action from the Internazionali BNL d'Italia beginning Sunday, May 13 at 5:00 am ET!

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