Former Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl is still unsure about the battle-readiness on the younger generation and believes that his former ward Alexander Zverev has a long way to go before he can be considered a contender.
“I think he clearly has some weaknesses in his game,” said Lendl about the 23-year-old Zverev on Patrick McEnroe’s podcast Holding Court. “He needs to improve.”
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Lendl, an eight-time Grand Slam singles champion, had worked as Zverev’s coach from August 2018 to July 2019 but the pair split due to personal differences.
The 23-year-old German reached his first major final at this year’s US Open, where a lot of top players – including Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka—were missing in action.
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Zverev lost to Dominic Thiem in a draining five-setter in the final of US Open, making the Austrian the first player in three years outside the Big 3 to win a Grand Slam.
“The other thing we don’t know what is going to happen now is this generation going to take over in 3-4 years when Roger, Rafa, and Novak are done or somebody younger is going to come up there and just dominate,” Lendl said.
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“We know they have won at certain levels, we know they have won the level below, but until they get into the crunch in a major final we really do not know what’s in there,” the 60-year-old added.
“We have seen that to some extent this year at the US Open
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“We had semifinalists and the question was who is the favorite, what’s going to happen. They have not been in it and the two guys who have been in the major finals, Thiem and (Daniil) Medvedev have not been in this situation as favorites.”
Meanwhile, the Big 3 are not loosening the grip on the major trophies. Before Thiem, Wawrinka was the last player outside of the Big 3 to have won a major, when he won the 2016 US Open.
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While Zverev has won three Masters events and the ATP Tour Finals in 2018, his record in the Grand Slam doesn’t quite match up to it. He reached his first major semi-finals at the Australian Open this year, also losing to Thiem.