Mischa Zverev exclusively in Das Gelbe vom Ball: It bothers Alexander Zverev about the favorite question for the French Open

The 13-time champion of Paris, Rafael Nadal – in fact top favorite in the French capital by law – has been weakened by a foot injury. Defending champion Novak Djokovic recently got underway after a weak start to the season in Rome. Carlos Alcaraz became the top favorite for Roland-Garros after his victories at the Masters in Miami and Madrid – especially with the bookmakers – but at the age of 19 he must first prove himself in a Grand Slam.

Rarely in recent years has the starting position before a major been as open as before the French Open (from 22 May live on free TV on Eurosport 1 and on Eurosport on Joyn).

After a first half of the season without a title, Alexander Zverev has to live with the role of co-favorite – to the great dissatisfaction of the Olympic champion himself, just like his brother Mischa Zverev in Eurosport podiet Boldens gule reported in conversation with Barbara Rittner and moderator Matthias Stach.

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At a dinner together, the role of favorite in the Zverev home was controversially discussed. “Sascha said the game providers predict that Alcaraz would have the best chance of winning the French Open,” said Mischa Zverev.

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The Olympic champion, in turn, described the 19-year-old Spaniard as “the best player in the world” after his final defeat (3: 6, 1: 6) in Madrid.
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But the fact that the star shot from Murcia is now being treated as a promising candidate to win the Coupe des Mousquetaires annoys the six-year-old hamburger. “Then he said, ‘You know, when it was Nadal or Djokovic back then, it was okay. Now Alcaraz – no!'” Mischa quotes his brother to say. Believe the motto: “I will not find myself in that. Now my time has come, now I want to win, I want to be the favorite and prove it to everyone.”

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Because: Self-confidence is back. After a weak start to the 2022 season, Alexander Zverev recently returned to better form. At the last three Masters events in Monte Carlo, Rome and Madrid, he always reached at least the semi-finals. “He’s playing better again and his attitude is really very good,” the older brother praises the “healthy ambition” in third place in the world rankings.

Father Zverev as a seat belt for the sons

Last year, Zverev failed at the French Open in the semifinals in a five-set thriller (3: 6, 3: 6, 6: 4, 6: 4, 3: 6) against Stefanos Tsitsipas. But now the 25-year-old has a coach in Sergi Bruguera who knows how to win at Roland-Garros. Bruguera, who won in Paris in 1993 and 1994, has been with the German for a few months. “I need a coach, I need leadership,” said the third in the world rankings before the Masters in Madrid.

However, the Catalan has not changed any aspects of training or technique. Focus is another place that the older brother reveals: “Sascha is the type of person who simply needs his rituals and his routine.”

Father Alexander Zverev senior serves as a stable anchor for this. “It’s like a seat belt you fasten when you get in the car,” said Mischa Zverev. At the same time, clay court specialist Bruguera was able to “give Sascha a few tips that could be very interesting and important,” Mischa Zverev said.

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As for the Grand Slam tournament in Paris, a look into the past is particularly encouraging. The last time the 34-year-old had this ambition in his little brother was in late 2016, when Zverev was still outside the world class.

“He was not in the top ten or 20 at the time, and we talked about which of the young players will be the next to break into the top ten,” reveals the former world number 25.

Alexander and Mischa Zverev in conversation in Turin

Photo Credit: Getty Images

At the time, the names of Australians Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic were mentioned – but not Alexander Zverev’s name, which spurred him on. The result: Six months later, the hamburger won the Masters in the Italian capital, soon after followed by Montreal. “Four or five months later he was in the top ten, won Rome and suddenly he is one of the best players in the world,” says Mischa Zverev on the Eurosport podium “The Yellow from the Ball”.

The current situation reminds him of the situation six years ago when Alexander was still aiming for the top ten. “I hope he can use it to his advantage,” said the older brother, “Maybe he’ll get his first Grand Slam soon.” Even if the season starts without a title, the chances are always there.

Because the favorite role is more balanced than ever. While bookmakers see Nadal, Djokovic and Alcaraz in front of them, the Zverev camp is dependent on self-confidence and their own strengths. What does the older brother think the younger brother is capable of in Paris? “At least the semifinals. But I believe in the final or the victory!”

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