Alexander Zverev expects himself, Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev to continue to dominate men's tennis in the 2022 season.
Zverev had a fantastic year as he won Olympic gold in Tokyo, the ATP Finals in Turin, and made two Grand Slam semi-finals. Djokovic won three majors and Medvedev secured his first Grand Slam title at the US Open.
The success of the trio led to suggestions that they are forming the new 'Big Three', replacing Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
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“I think next year could be very similar to the last six months from this year,” Zverev, who was named German Sportsman of the Year this week, told Eurosport Germany’s Das Gelbe vom Ball podcast.
“Before, there used to be always talk about [Rafael] Nadal, [Roger] Federer and Djokovic - now the big titles were the Olympics, US Open, Turin and Wimbledon, and they were all won by Medvedev, Djokovic and me.
“I don't expect it to be any different next year.”
Djokovic is currently top of the world rankings ahead of Medvedev in second and Zverev in third.
But Medvedev and Zverev will both be hopeful of closing the gap in 2022 as Djokovic will have maximum points to defend at the first three Grand Slams of the year.
“I know I'm not far away from it, but for that I also have to win tournaments and Grand Slams," said Zverev about the No 1 ranking.
"The situation with Novak and Australia is still a big question mark. Of course I hope that he will be allowed to play, that's very clear. There are thousands of mathematical calculations, if he doesn't play Australia and I win the Australian Open, then I'm No 1 in the world and so on and so forth.
“At the end of the day, now is not the time to think about it [being able to become world No 1], now is the time to prepare as best as you can so you're physically able to play for it."
Zverev played Djokovic five times in 2021, losing three but winning two big matches in the semi-finals of the Olympics and the ATP Finals.
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Asked about the narrowing gap between himself and Djokovic, Zverev said: “I can only ever speak of myself, but I think that I have improved my game a lot in the last few years. I don't only see that when I play against Novak, I also see that when I play against others.
“I also talked about this with Novak. Novak feels like he is still at the highest point of his career. He also told me that he is serving better now than he ever served before. He sees his tennis game as good as he used to see it. He has no problems from the baseline, so I already think we're improving.
"I've become much calmer. I'm also getting older. I'm not 18 or 19 anymore. I understand maybe a bit more things about life and understand that you just have to keep calm in important situations. That has had its effect on me this year. But the biggest improvement I've made is my second serve. I haven't had any matches in the last six months where I served 20 double faults."
Zverev also thinks Djokovic deserves to be recognised as the best player in men’s tennis ahead of Federer and Nadal.
"Federer and Nadal have always been the crowd's favourites and also the media's favourites, which Novak never was. That's just the way it is. But at some point you can't ignore all the records any more. He has won as many Grand Slams as Federer and Nadal. He has more Masters titles. He has more weeks as number 1 in the world. He just has more of everything - he wins in every single category. You can't ignore these numbers and records.
“They play together in the same era, so for me it's just clear that you say: purely from a sporting point of view and in terms of successes, Novak is simply further ahead.”
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