Tennis Prose



Zane Khan Progress Report

The latest news and info about American Zane Khan, the 19 year old ATP world no. 405, who won two rounds at US Open qualies and barely lost the third to Donskoy in a three set marathon, from coach Christopher Begg…

By Christopher Begg

New York and Injury

It has been almost four months now since Zane was forced into retirement in the final of the 25k in Portugal, and in this time we have had some great moments and some difficult ones. Zane was able to come back and play reasonably pain free in the US Open qualifying, but sadly the injury persisted causing him problems in a challenger in Cassis, France.

In the build up to the US Open, we were told that Zane was suffering mostly from tendinitis in his ankle. An MRI apparently showed that he had a small tear on his peroneus muscle group, but the bigger issue was tendinitis from a pre-existing injury that hadn’t perhaps been properly rehabilitated. We spent lots of time at the physio doing rehabilitation exercises, and tried our best to manage his on court volume so that he was able to continue some exercises on court without causing further damage.

Fortunately, Zane was granted a wildcard for qualifying and just about felt sturdy enough to compete. We arrived in New York – excited, but without expectation. Forgetting the level of the other players, we didn’t know how Zane’s ankle would withstand the amount of movement necessary to compete. We tried to use the time on court wisely, and Zane spent a lot of time in the recovery room. By the time the match came around we both felt confident that he was as prepared as he could be given the circumstances.

In the first round against (Sergey) Stakhovsky, Zane was initially shocked by the accuracy of the opponents serve. Though we talk about these things pre-match, young players usually have not competed against opponents that can literally hold their service game within seconds! After an initial shock and freeze, Zane settled well and managed to win the match in three sets 46 75 63. By the end of the match, Zane looked like he had resolved the tactical problems his opponent posed, and most importantly, he himself served extremely well. We had prioritised improving his service motion with the objective of raising his serve percentage in matches, so we were both very pleased about his serving performance in this match.

In the second round, Zane was confronted with a former top 30 player, Damir Dzumhur. Again, we had completed some performance analysis on this player which included his on court behaviour. We had expected that Dzumhur might find something to be unhappy about, and I suspected that it would be Zane’s return routine. Zane has a ritual before returning, and he times it for when the opponent is not looking so that he doesn’t distract them. It is almost a ritual that balances him before he returns. Unfortunately Dzumhur was unhappy and distracted by this and he complained (at length) to the umpire on multiple occasions. Truly, this routine is for Zane and not an attempt in anyway to bother the opponent. In the end, Zane was able to continue and not let the outbursts affect his rhythm. Dzumhur showed why he is a very good player and competitor. Zane was able to win in straight sets 62 76, but had he not taken the second set tie break 7-5, it would have been very difficult for him to win the match in three sets. Tactically, Dzumhur was continually re-adjusting and with all his experience, I think it was a good thing that Zane closed out the match in two sets. Again, we were very pleased with Zane’s serving performance in this match.

In the final round of qualifying, Zane was set to play Evgeny Donskoy. He had also beaten two very capable opponents, and we knew this would be an extremely complicated match. Zane began the match following the tactical plan, but as his opponent adjusted, he began to slightly lose his way. He competed fantastically well and in the end lost a very tight match 7-6 in the third set (46 75 67). He had plenty of chances and actually won more points than his opponent, however sometimes matches go this way.

Overall, we were very pleased with Zane’s attitude, competitiveness, and general game. From playing three quality opponents, we have a better idea of the areas that Zane needs to improve. Since the US Open, we have taken the time to have Zane’s ankle properly assessed, and we also decided to assess his whole body for potential weaknesses. Our main objective for the 2022 season is to play the full calendar without injury. That would be a huge success for Zane and I personally feel he will have a good chance to climb the rankings if he gives himself that opportunity to compete regularly.

We are setting our sights now on finishing the year well, whether that is with a positive pre season, or potentially some more competitions later in the year. Either way, it is likely that we will have a shorter pre season and get back into tournaments as soon as possible. We are excited and motivated to finish 2021 well, and I know Zane is hungry to get back into competition as soon as his body allows him to. Fingers crossed Zane can get the results his hard work and patience deserve, and lets hope that 2022 can be his break-out year.

(This was part four of Zane Khan’s ATP progression.)

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