Hopman Cup tournament director Paul Kilderry has backed Alexander Zverev to take over the mantle from Roger Federer and carry forward his legacy. The 20-year-old is among the rising talents in the circuit and is being looked at as the heir apparent to the Swiss ace, who is regarded as the greatest player to have ever made his way into a tennis court.
The world number 4 enjoyed a magnificent season on the ATP Tour, claiming five titles, including the Montreal Masters in which he beat Federer in the final. 2018 is set to be another significant year for the youngster in which he is expected to stamp his mark and show that he belongs in the same cadre as the likes of Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and others.
Federer, a 19-time men's singles Grand Slam winner, came back from a six-month break in 2016 in spectacular fashion, when he won the Australian Open in January, the first grand slam he had won in over four years. After missing the French Open owing to injury problems, he fought back and went on to win the Wimbledon title, proving that he was still among the greats to rule the court.
Federer accumulated a total of seven titles in the year, more than any other player, and is looking to continue his form in 2018. But he is likely to face a much bigger task, with a host of players returning from injury.
However, Kilderry believes that should Federer's influence wane, Zverev will be there to pick up the pieces from where he left off.
"I think people in tennis see Zverev as the heir apparent to Roger," Kilderry said, as quoted by the Express.
Speaking about Federer, the 44-year-old former tennis player, added, "It's great to have him back. This year I noticed a lot of agents reaching out, with a lot of their players wanting to play. I think having Roger here last year and him going on to win the Australian Open was really great for the event."
Discussing the Hopman tournament as a whole, Kilderry enthused, "I think we've probably got one of the strongest fields ever. To have four of the top-eight players in the world in the men's game to be here, along with Angelique Kerber, Coco Vandeweghe and Dasha (Gavrilova) coming back, along with (Thanasi) Kokkinakis (for Australia)."