There's Federer, then there's Nadal, and Zverev is a close third. It's the first time in a while that someone outside of the big 5 is one of the big favorites to take a grand slam. Sure, it may be because Djokovic and Wawrinka withdrew due to injury and Murray is coming back from a long recover from injury, but it's also because the German youngster has begun to prove his skill to the world.
After defeating Roger Federer in the finals of the Rogers Cup, Zverev claimed his second career Masters 1000 title. This is more than any current member of the #NextGen has earned and anyone besides the Big Four in fact, demonstrating that he is playing some of the best tennis for players his age and for anyone on the tour.
Roger Federer, who has publicly expressed back pain and discomfort, and Rafael Nadal, who hasn't found much success on hard court lately could both be problems for Zverev should they play some of their best tennis. Andy Murray, who has spent the last couple of months recovering from a hip injury, probably won't be as big of a problem for Zverev should they meet. These three don't seem to be as intimidating as they were previously in the year due to them struggling with individual problems.
The real problem for Zverev, who hasn't been able to prove that he can play quality tennis in grand slams, is going to be Zverev himself. In the past, Zverev has performed phenomenally in pre-grand slam tournaments, but ended up suffering early exits on the big stage. For example, after he won the Italian Open on clay earlier this year, Zverev went straight into the French Open and lost in the first round. If he is able to begin playing high-level tennis on the big stage, he will without a doubt be able to go deep into the tournament, if not take it all.
This is one of the biggest opportunities that a non-big 5 player has had to win a grand slam in recent history. Should he adapt to playing on the big stage and compete at a high level, Alexander Zverev could very well be the first member of the #NextGen to win a grand slam, ultimately proving that tennis no longer completely belongs to the big 5.
Will the German claim his first major title? Let's see!