The next big thing in German tennis was bitterly disappointed by his second-round defeat. Following his recent success, Alexander Zverev knows he missed an excellent chance to take the next big step in his career.
Alexander Zverev made no bones about how disappointed he was by his shock 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (4) loss to Croatia's Borna Coric in the US Open second round on Wednesday night.
"Today was upsetting," the 20-year-old German told the post-match press conference at Flushing Meadows. "The way I played was upsetting."
With 58 unforced errors against the 61-ranked Coric, who is just five months older than him, Zverev had every right to be frustrated with his own play.
An opportunity missed
What made things even more disappointing for Zverev, who for some time has been seen as the next big thing in men's tennis, was that given the absence of top players like Andy Murray, Stan Wawrynka and Nowak Djokovic, it had seemed like a perfect chance for him to make his first breakthrough at a Grand Slam.
"I know that I could have done some big things here. I know that I could have done something that I haven't done before," the No. 4-ranked Zverev said. "But now I won't. It's just as simple as that."
So far in his young career, his Grand Slam record has been far less impressive than at lesser events, with his best showing having come at Wimbledon last month, where he made his first appearance in the fourth round of one of the sport's four most prestigious tournaments.
After his win over Roger Federer in the in the final of the hard-court warmup at the Rogers Cup in Montreal earlier in the month - in addition to the four other titles that he has won in 2017 - everything seemed to be falling to place for him to make a major impact in New York.
Media pressure not a problem
And leading into the last Grand Slam of the season, much was made of the increased expectation, particularly in the US media. However, speaking to the SID news agency after the match, Zverev rejected the notion that all that attention had weighed heavily on him.
"No, I've had to deal with (high) expectations from a very early age," he said.
However, clearly, he too is on the same page with many in the media, who thought that this was the perfect chance for him to take the next big step.
"How long am I supposed to say that I am learning? I was playing against a 20-year-old. I didn't lose to Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal," he said, self-critically. "I'm having a good year, but my Grand Slam year hasn't been so good."
His Grand Slam year is over before many thought it should be. This has left him with no other choice but to "keep working hard" with a view to "perhaps winning this title in the future."
The fact that his older brother, No. 23-ranked Mischa, 30, did make it to the third round by beating Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 7-5, will have been precious little consolation.