Boris Becker has told Alexander Zverev he now needs to start winning majors in order to cement his place in the elite of the men’s game.
Zverev has long been heralded as the biggest talent of his generation, although he has been surpassed by Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem since, both of whom have won a Grand Slam.
Medvedev and Thiem are older than Zverev, but Becker believes Zverev is now at a stage when promise and potential have to be replaced with titles.
“[Zverev] is now in the form of his life and the big titles have to come,” Becker told Eurosport Germany’s Das Gelbe vom Ball podcast.
“If it doesn’t happen this year, then the next generation will come and the pressure will increase a bit. Questions will get louder.”
Zverev will enter the Australian Open as one of the top favourites to win it, especially if Novak Djokovic, who knocked him out last time, is not allowed to play due to his ongoing visa issues.
Becker certainly believes he can take the title, but much will depend on how he deals with the pressure of expectation.
“We are still at the beginning of the year and I am confident that Sascha [Zverev] can win the Australian Open,” he added. “But it won’t be a walk in the park.
“The competitors will not be sleeping; the top players will no longer have any pressure when they play Sascha Zverev in the second week.
“He is suddenly the favourite and people expect him to reach at least the semi-finals. That’s a different expectation and you have to be able to deal with that.”
The furthest Zverev has been at a Grand Slam is the 2020 US Open, when he was two sets up in the final only to lose out to Thiem in an absolute thriller.