Tennis Prose



AO Upset: Raonic Smashes Zverev

By Louise Belcourt

Just a day after the tennis world was rocked by monumental wins for two under 22 year old men (Tiafoe & Tsitsipas) at the Australian Open, 21 year old Zverev continued his grand slam disappointment.

Ranked 4th in the world, Zverev was no match for world number 17 Milos Raonic, losing 6-1 6-1 7-6 in the Australian Open fourth round. The big serving Canadian took just under 2 hours to frustrate and dismantle his younger opponent.

Living up to his seeding at a grand slam has become a constant nightmare for the German. His best result was a grand slam quarterfinal appearance at the French Open in 2018.

One may ask, how can you be seeded number 4 and never have beaten a top 20 player in a grand slam? He has achieved great results in ATP events with 10 titles, most notably winning last year’s ATP final, where he cleaned up the great men, Roger Federer in the semi-final and Novak Djokovic in the final. But a grand slam played over 2 weeks with best of 5 set matches has not suited the German.

For Zverev, today’s match was far from impressive, with 10 double faults, 23 unforced errors, sluggish and sloppy play, and finding Raonic an un-passable wall at the net.

Zverev candidly revealed “I played bad. The first two sets especially I played horrible. Yeah, I mean, it’s just tough to name on one thing. I didn’t serve well, didn’t play well from the baseline. Against a quality player like him, it’s tough to come back from that.”

Conceding a second break when he double faulted twice in the one game, the frustration was evident, with Zverev’s racket no match for his temper, ultimately destroying it and conceding a code violation on the way. Zverev admitted “It made me feel better. I was very angry, so I let my anger out.”

The loss was upsetting but did not dent Zverev’s outlook saying “Right now I’m not happy, but I’m not depressed, either (smiling).” He continued, “If I would think it’s the end of the world every time I lose a tennis match, I would be very depressed about 15 to 20 times a year. So I’m not going to do that.”

Now the debate will heat up on whether Zverev will be the first of the new generation to win a grand slam, particularly after last night’s brilliant win by 20-year-old Tsitsipas over Federer.

Of the comparisons with other young players his age, Zverev said “This is one of many tournaments. You can’t really compete every single week saying you made semis there or quarters there, beat that. No, actually I want to be the best, but, yeah, not this week.”

So will he ever be able to smile 7 times in a row and win one the grand slams? If today’s performance is any indication it’s a long way off, and there’s plenty of other young guys that may get there first.

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  • catherine · January 21, 2019 at 9:59 am

    Was Lendl in Melbourne ?

  • Hartt · January 21, 2019 at 10:00 am

    I had predicted Milos would win this match, and not just because I am a big Milos fan, but because he played so well in his first 2 matches, beating Kyrgios in SS and Stan in 4. (Plus Herbert in 3) Obviously I did not foresee that Sascha would have such a big meltdown in the first 2 sets, but Milos still prevailed in the third when Sascha did raise his level.

    Milos served extremely well, with 69% of first serves in. With his huge serve, usually he just needs 60% to stand a good chance of winning. He had 15 aces over 3 sets, which is about his norm, and just 1 DF. He won 80% of his first serves and 54% of his 2nd.

    But it was his net play that was especially good to see. He won 33/48 net points, or 69%. He had 45 winners to 24 UFEs.

    He purposely used the slice a lot, to try to make Sascha uncomfortable, a tactic he uses against players who don’t like to come to the net.

    Milos has worked hard to improve his net game over the last few years, and that work is paying dividends.

    “Raonic said he felt like a more complete player now, smarter with his returns and more accomplished at the net, for instance. “In the first five years of my career, I probably hit only a couple of thousand volleys,” he said. “Over the last three years, I’ve probably hit tens of thousands of volleys. I think in that scenario, things are bound to get better.”
    The Age (Aussie paper) Jan. 21, 2019

    Milos has to be a favourite against Pouille, with a 3-0 head to head against the Frenchman. If he does win that match he will be back in the AO SFs. He lost the one other time he did that, when an injury in his match against Murray changed the course of the match when he was leading. In his presser at the time, Milos said something like he’d never been so broken-hearted in a tennis match. I hope this year will be a happier experience, although he could face his kryptonite, Novak, in the SF.

  • Hartt · January 21, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Yes, Lendl was there. He could not have been happy with what he saw!

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 21, 2019 at 10:59 am

    Beginning to have some doubts of Zverev, if he’s another Todd Martin, Cedric Pioline, Nalbandian, Ljubicic type. So close but so far. Plenty of time for Zverev but these losses take a toll on the psyche. And now that Tsitsipas is passing is not a good sign. Zverev just can’t believe someone younger is passing him.

  • Wayne Bradford · January 21, 2019 at 1:49 pm

    It’s kind of a shame Fed didn’t draw Zverev since the kid clearly cracked under the pressure. Lendl had to be dismayed by that pathetic display, particularly a woeful serve

    Maybe Tiafoe is the young gun with the most potential. He has a real shot at knocking off Nadal and hopefully ESPN will televise it. I imagine they might opt for Brad Gilbert interviewing someone instead.

  • Wayne Bradford · January 21, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    I also think discredit has to go to Lendl. What kind of game plan did Zverev have? It is also disconcerting to see what kind of shape Lendl is. Surely that is not motivating Zverev, who continues to make fun of the fact that he cannot put on muscle.

    Agassi looks to be in better shape. Good interview with him and Steffi at the tournament on YouTube. What a wonderful couple and all their work for charity. Interesting that Agassi still says he hates tennis. Anyone who is forced to do something by their parents would feel that way.

    Zverev has said that he wants to be coached by Boris Becker. Perhaps Becker could revive his life by being around the Zverevs more. It is sad that Becker has had so many financial and personal problems. I have noticed that Fed never talks about or deals with Becker so I suspect there is friction there.

  • Wayne Bradford · January 21, 2019 at 1:58 pm


    Good point on the slice backhand. Zverev was clearly not prepared on what to do when Milos was slicing them. Again, that’s a terrible coaching job by Lendl. You wonder if Lendl had ever seen Milos play. That slice backhand simply sliced Zverev into pieces. Hard to believe a simple tactic would outwit a player at that level but any amateur could have made a better game plan that what Lendl and Zverev did.

  • catherine · January 21, 2019 at 2:12 pm

    German tennis – I heard that Steffi was with Andre at the AO – don’t know if this is true or not. If so, let’s hope she didn’t stick around for Kerber’s match.

    Women’s tennis in Germany could do with a boost – after the Kerber/Georges/Petko generation has gone the cupboard seems pretty bare. Several younger players are now to be mainly found in the qualifying or are disappearing in early rounds. At Wimbledon Angie made a point of saying she hoped her win would inspire more girls to play. Graf must be fading into history by now.

    Is Zverev just too tall ? He seems to be tied in knots sometimes on the court – though maybe he’ll grow into his body.

  • catherine · January 21, 2019 at 2:19 pm

    Didn’t see the above post re Andre and Steffi owing to usual computer glitch. So yes, Steffi was there and maybe she did see Angie’s debacle.

    Why would Federer talk about or deal with Becker ? Boris is Head of Men’s tennis in the DTB, or was, so I can’t see they’d have much to discuss.

    Why does Agassi coach if he hates tennis ?

  • Scoop Malinowski · January 21, 2019 at 3:03 pm

    I have inside info about Agassi from a coach who brought his top junior Hungarian to Vegas to spend time with Andre and Stef and Andre tried inspiring this player and he actually broke down in tears trying to motivate her to love the sport and enjoy what she’s doing. The whole key is to enjoy the sport, Andre implored her. So yes of course there are things about tennis that are painful but remember, Agassi played tennis for as long as he possibly could, as long as his body enabled him to. He only quit when his back gave out. So for Agassi to say he hates tennis is fake news baloney. If he hated tennis he would have quit long long ago.

  • Wayne Bradford · January 21, 2019 at 3:59 pm

    To clarify Andre said he hated tennis for a large part of his life, not now. Here’s the interview:

    Nice to see he likes Lavazza coffee. It is one of favorite too. I actually think Hill Brothers is underrated that I get from my gas station. This is a wonderful product to endorese.

    Fed has no relationship with Becker, kind of odd for legends of the game. Definitely some problem there. Perhaps its from his support of Djokovic. Although you never know if Fed has reached out to help him financially or not.

  • Wayne Bradford · January 21, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    Mauresmo has certainly helped Pouille win the big points. No doubt she is a better coach than Lendl based on what we have seen in this tournament.

    I’d make Milos the favorite but who knows if he can keep serving like this. He’ll probably need a more sophisticated game plan since Mauresmo knows all about slice backhands unlike Lendl.



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