Zverev backs Marozsan to join ATP elite

Alexander Zverev told Hungarian Fabian Marozsan that he has the ability to become a top 10 player on the ATP Tour. (AL BELLO)
Alexander Zverev told Hungarian Fabian Marozsan that he has the ability to become a top 10 player on the ATP Tour. (AL BELLO)

As Fabian Marozsan left the stadium court after his quarter-final exit at the Miami Open, his German opponent Alexander Zverev approached him and offered a reminder of his new status in the sport.

"He told me that if I continue to play like this, which is not easy of course, I can be in the top 10 in the next few years," said the Hungarian.

It was clear that the words of encouragement, after Zverev's 6-3, 7-5 win, were well received by the 24-year-old who is proving to be something of a slayer of top 10 opponents.

Marozsan's wins in Miami over world number seven Holger Rune and 10th-ranked Alex de Minaur, have made many sit up and take notice of the Hungarian, who will break into the top 40 in Monday's ATP rankings.

Those wins come after his big win, as a qualifier, in the Masters event in Rome last year over world number two Carlos Alcaraz, which was followed by a win over Casper Ruud in Shanghai.

Marozsan was 135th in the world when he pulled off that stunning victory over Alcaraz last in May, but on Monday he will rise to 38th in th world, achieving his target of a top 40 spot.

"I'm kind of a new guy...this is still my first year on the ATP Tour," he said.

"But I want to play at the highest level. The new goal for me now is the top 30, which is closer but still a little bit far," he added.

The rise up the rankings has been so rapid that sometimes Marozsan has to pause himself to take it all in.

- Tough spot -

The Budapest-born player says his upturn in form came after a period of soul-searching, 12 months ago.

"At the time, I was in a tough spot mentally. However, I had started the month of March well by winning a Challenger in Turkey and then following up with a semi-final at home in Hungary.

"But after that, I started to play really badly and get into a spiral of defeats. I didn’t believe in myself anymore, I didn’t know what to do.

“Eventually, I changed my team and started working with my current coach. I started to train better, to play better and it all happened all of a sudden, in Rome. From there, things fell into place," he said.

Coming out of junior tennis, Marozsan spent five years on the Futures tour before playing Challenger events and finally this year earning a place on the ATP Tour.

Marozsan gives credit to his coach Gyorgy Balazs for his recent progress, saying he has given him more specific training and focused closely on analysis of opponents.

"He didn’t change my tennis, he just pushed me to give 100% in everything I do, on and off the court. Let’s just say he personalized my training more," he said.

Zverev believes that with that focus, patience and hard work, Marozsan can harness his talent to break into the elite of the tour.

"If you come in today with a 4-1 record against top-10 players, that means you have the qualities. You just have to maybe at times be patient enough and also bring it on a weekly basis. If he does bring it on a weekly basis, there is no reason why he can't be (top 10)," said the German.

"I thought today he was my toughest opponent this week so far, and I have played some top-20 guys, played some ex-top-10 guys as well. I thought he was playing incredible," he added.

"So that's why I said it. I still believe if he finds this tennis on a weekly basis it should not be an accident he's in the quarter-finals, semi-finals of Masters 1000 events. And then you're top 10."