Alexander Zverev issued a warning to top ATP rivals Sunday after winning the Citi Open for his fourth title of the year – he’s not the next generation, he’s the now generation. (EPA photo)

Washington: Alexander Zverev issued a warning to top ATP rivals Sunday after winning the Citi Open for his fourth title of the year – he’s not the next generation, he’s the now generation.

The 20-year-old German defeated South Africa’s Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4 to capture the $355,460 (302,000 euros) top prize at the US Open tuneup event on the Washington hardcourts.

World number eight Zverev dropped only nine points on his serve and never faced a break point in becoming the youngest player to win four ATP titles in a year, or take the Washington crown, since Argentina’s Juan Martin Del Potro did it at 19 in 2008.

“I improved a lot in the last few months to get where I can win tournaments,” Zverev said. “The longer the tournament goes for me the better I’m able to play. Hopefully this can continue to be like that.”

Zverev won his first title last September in St. Petersburg and added trophies this year at Montpellier, Munich and Rome, where he downed Novak Djokovic in the final.

He also ousted number four Stan Wawrinka at Miami and pushed Rafael Nadal to five sets in the third round of the Australian Open.

“I’m ‘Next Gen’ but the rankings say it for themselves,” Zverev said. “I think I showed I can play with the big guys this year.

“I think I showed I’m not an ‘in the future’ kind of guy. I’m right now.”

Only Wimbledon and Australian Open champion Roger Federer with five titles has won more ATP crowns this year than Zverev, and that’s only because the Swiss star handed the German his lone finals loss of 2017 at Halle in June.

“A lot of people are looking at him as the face of tennis and the next Grand Slam champion,” Anderson said of Zverev. “He seems to deal with it all pretty well. It will be interesting to see how the next little while progresses.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins a few Grand Slams. He definitely seems to be on a path in that direction.”

Zverev, who will remain a career-best eighth in Monday’s rankings, made a Slam-best fourth-round Wimbledon run, losing in five sets to Milos Raonic.

“Winning those types of matches is the next level I need to reach,” Zverev said. “To get far in those events is my next goal.”

Zverev thanked new co-coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, the former world number one from Spain who worked with him at an event for the first time this week.

“What a way to start together and hopefully we have many more years to come and many more titles together,” Zverev said. “It’s amazing what we’ve already accomplished.”

Russia’s 58th-ranked Ekaterina Makarova prevented a German title sweep by rallying past 40th-ranked Julia Goerges 3-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-0 for her third career WTA crown.

“I was dreaming to win this tournament and I’m so happy,” Makarova said.

Makarova hadn’t won a title since 2014 in Pattaya City. Her first WTA trophy came at Eastbourne in 2010.

In the men’s final, Zverev took the only break of the first set in the third game when Anderson netted a forehand overhead smash. Zverev broke to open the second set and held from there, winning after 69 minutes when Anderson sent a backhand wide.

“The couple of times I had small openings he played really well,” Anderson said.

Anderson, in his first ATP final since winning the 2015 Winston-Salem title, will jump from 45th to about 33rd in Monday’s rankings, his best mark since standing 25th last August.

“I played some of my best tennis here,” Anderson said. “That has been really encouraging.” -- AFP

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