Coach Ferrero On Rise With Zverev

Getty ImagesJuan Carlos Ferrero coached Alexander Zverev into the Top 5 of the Emirates ATP Rankings in 2017.

Juan Carlos Ferrero garnered plenty of accolades as a player. The Spaniard climbed to the top of the Emirates ATP Rankings and captured 16 tour-level singles titles, including the trophy at Roland Garros in 2003.

But while you can watch him compete in the final ATP Champions Tour event of the season — Champions Tennis at the Royal Albert Hall from 30 November through 3 December — he is on the other side of the fence, too. Ferrero is now a coach, helping rising superstar Alexander 'Sascha' Zverev surge to the top of the sport.

"What we are witnessing is a before and after for Sascha," said Ferrero, who joined the world’s No.4-ranked player earlier this year, at the Nitto ATP Finals, where Zverev was the youngest qualifier since Juan Martin del Potro in 2008. "His experience this week in London will come in handy; he's learning how to handle himself during these types of events. That's essential to his growth."

Zverev showed signs of what was to come back in January when the German, ranked No. 24 at the time, pushed eventual finalist Rafael Nadal to five sets in a losing effort in the third round of the Australian Open. A few weeks later, Zverev claimed his first title of the year by outlasting the likes of Jeremy Chardy, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet en route to the Open Sud de France title in Montpellier. His breakthrough into the Emirates ATP Rankings Top 10 came at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Rome, where Zverev defeated Novak Djokovic in the final, becoming the youngest Masters 1000 titlist since a 19-year-old Novak Djokovic won the Miami Open presented by Itau in 2007.

Despite the accolades, Ferrero admits that Zverev has felt the pressure that has come with his meteoric rise. A winner at the Kings of Tennis by Index Residence on ATP Champions Tour in Stockholm this year, Ferrero has been tasked with grooming the talented Zverev as he manages his success and the expectations that come with it.

"It has been a very important year for Sascha," said Ferrero. "These accolades have all come very quickly, and that's something that he has struggled to handle at times. Part of my goal is to keep him balanced and not to lash out when things don't go his way. That will improve over time, but I'm trying to accelerate that process. He has to keep growing, keep gaining experience.”

Ferrero's own mentor, Samuel Lopez, was also present in London coaching Pablo Carreno Busta, who competed in two matches at his first Nitto ATP Finals as an alternate when top-seeded Rafael Nadal withdrew. Lopez is equally impressed with Zverev's improvement as a player as he is with Ferrero's handling and guidance of the young talent.

"They say it's harder to get to the top than it is to stay there," Lopez said. "You have to have the right set of weapons to perform consistently at the highest level; above all, you need to have a competitive edge and have what it takes to play under adverse situations. Sascha has that along with natural qualities so he's here to stay. Juan Carlos is very demanding; he's a professional and that will rub off on Sascha."

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