tennis | ATP Masters Madrid: Zverev before the Masters in Madrid: The lost self-image

Status: 05/02/2022 08:20

A Grand Slam victory and the top spot in the world rankings: With these self-proclaimed goals for 2022, Alexander Zverev put a lot of pressure on them – and has so far failed deeply. The Masters tournament in Madrid, which he won in 2021, comes at the wrong time.

As an absolute world-class player, Alexander Zverev has gathered a large team around him in recent years. “Not all of them are visible, but they help in the background to make him more professional,” Brother Mischa Zverev said at a breakfast in Melbourne in January. An example of the statement: Professional, entertaining videos (so-called reels, editor’s note) edited in the style of the platform have been shown on Instagram quite regularly for some time.

At a training session before the BMW Open in Munich a week ago, his now around 1.5 million followers saw a focused Zverev, who worked hard on his basic strokes and especially his forehand, and joked in a good mood with his team during the breaks.

Opening defeat in Munich against Youngster Rune

In a classic case of “Instagram vs. Reality”, spectators at the beautiful and cozy, because narrow club facilities at Aumeister in the Bavarian state capital got a completely different Alexander in the days before his devastating opening defeat against the talented and very young Dane Holger Rune (18) Zverev to face: Calm, withdrawn, grim, struggling with his training game and especially forehand.

Alexander Zverev (left) during a training session with coach Bruguera.

Photo: IMAGO / Juergen Hasenkopf

He usually listened to the suggestions of his new coach Sergio Bruguera with a destructive body language. That only changed when training was over and he patiently complied with autograph and photo requests, mostly from young fans.

Question marks behind its performance

The best German tennis player carries a burden with pretty much every fiber in his body. At the start of the Masters tournament in Madrid, which is so important for Zverev (Zverev has 1,000 points to defend as defending champion, editor’s note) and a few weeks before the French Open, there are questions about his performance.

Zverev turned 25 two weeks ago. The ambitious pro has never made that particularly clear, but he has not only lagged behind this season. After an excellent second half of 2021 with four tournament victories, including the highly acclaimed gold medal at the Olympics and the second success at the end of the year for the top eight players, Zverev announced the long-awaited first Grand Slam title for 2022 and thus also the place of the world rankings sun .

At the time, it was not an exaggerated goal, but the right-handed player, who strikes harder than almost any other player, lost his self-image in the transition to the new season. The unexpected, clear and emotionless round of 16 at the Australian Open against Denis Shapovalov still hangs on Zverev today. Then a significant freak from Acapulco repeatedly damaged his image.

He then played the Davis Cup, was ill at the important Masters events in the USA and fought his way into the semifinals of his home tournament in Monte Carlo with changing performances but fighting performances despite a thigh injury – not enough for Zverev and his fans: “I started “this year with so many chances to become number one. It was always in my head. I felt under extreme pressure and not free,” Zverev explained on the sidelines of the event in Munich. “I just turned 25. I’m heading towards where the top of my career should be.” The turning point should follow in Munich.

However, Rune mercilessly revealed Zverev’s playful weaknesses on Wednesday: Too prone to errors on the forehand, unbalanced when he ran stop balls and mentally not up to par.

Alexander Zverev is still suffering from a mild infection.

Photo: IMAGO / Philippe Ruiz

One of Zverev’s good qualities is to stand by his performances. In Munich, he called this “bottomless” and deeply apologized with his hands on his face at the tournament and fans for the early finish, which was at least put into perspective a bit during the week. Opponent Rune won Sunday’s tournament after storming into the final without losing a set; In addition, Zverev, who flew directly from Munich to Madrid, is said to be plagued by a minor infection.

More construction sites

In addition to physical problems, there are other construction sites in Zverev’s life, as is so often the case. Several lawsuits are still pending, including against the editors of the journalistic articles that accused Zverev of domestic violence against one of his ex-girlfriends. There is an official ATP investigation into parts of these allegations, for example on the sidelines of the ATP tournament in Shanghai 2019. It was heard in Munich that this should be completed very soon. More than a dozen participants were asked for information on sports shows – including people who were in Asia with Zverev at the time. The ex-girlfriend should also be ready to testify. Since the fall of 2020, the accusations have been countered by several energetic denials from Zverev.

Sportingly, he brought in Spanish national coach Sergi Bruguera on his team in the United States on a trial basis. The French Open winner of 1993 and 94, confirmed the team from the sports show, will definitely stay until the end of the gravel track season and worked with Zverev in Munich, especially in advance. Even small changes take time at the profile level. “Bild am Sonntag” also reports that father Alexander Zverev senior is actively returning to the training ground. The head coach took a break in the fall. For the important event in Madrid, Zverev may certainly need help.

ATP Munich: Zverev loses opening match against 18-year-olds

02-05-2022 13:16


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