Sporting Life

Zverev stars as Next Gen battles Greatest Gen

Alexander Zverev firing one of his many booming serves to Novak Djokovic in the final of the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London on Sunday. The 21-year-old German won 6-4, 6-3 to be the youngest player to take the year-ending title since the Serb 10
Alexander Zverev firing one of his many booming serves to Novak Djokovic in the final of the ATP Finals at the O2 Arena in London on Sunday. The 21-year-old German won 6-4, 6-3 to be the youngest player to take the year-ending title since the Serb 10 years ago.PHOTO: REUTERS

Revolutions in sport always come with warnings. There is no exact date to a dethroning, only the inevitability of it. Great players can see the young coming and it's like looking at old photographs of themselves. Pimples and eagerness, scrawny bodies and ambition. All that rage, respect and no mercy.

Young players make older players better and then they make them extinct. They praise their elders but want to hand them pension cheques. They have too many runner-up plates at home and cringe at the 2,456th asking of the same question: "What makes Novak, Rafa, Roger so good?" In the phrase, the Next Star, they want the first word erased.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2018, with the headline 'Zverev stars as Next Gen battles Greatest Gen'. Print Edition | Subscribe