Tennis Prose



Zverev Digs Deep For First Major Semifinal

By Louise Belcourt

22 year old Alexander Zverev is often denigrated for his lacklustre grand slam results, having never made it passed the fourth round. No one (including himself) expected this year’s Australian Open grand slam to be any different. Especially after his dismal showing in Brisbane in the ATP Cup only 3 weeks ago where he lost all three matches to younger players Alex de Minaur, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov. In all those matches his serve seemed to have deserted him.

On a warm afternoon in Rod Laver Arena the German showed in the quarter finals against Stan Wawrinka that he has put in the work, changed his attitude, and is ready to fight with the big boys over 5 sets.

Coming into this match Zverev had not lost a set in the first four rounds. Although today he would erase that perfect record in only 24 minutes, winning only a single game in the first set. At this point it was looking like today would be a repeat of so many grand slams from the past, on paper a higher ranked player at 7 compared to Wawrinka at 15, but never reaching his potential.

In the second set Zverev turned the match around with his outstanding serving (yes, the same serve that deserted him in the ATP Cup). Incredibly he did not lose a point on serve the entire second set!

The errors started to mount from the Swiss racket, and the serve, speed and control from the German was too much and he ran away with the match 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-2 in 2 hours and 19 minutes.

Zverev’s serve was the key to this win, having 13 aces and only 1 double fault, and serving at 80% of first serves. Also, off the baseline the German was impressive with 34 winners to 28 unforced errors.

Of turning around the match after the first set Zverev said “I didn’t feel the ball quite well in the first set because I played all my matches in the evening when it was much, much colder. Today was very hot on court. The ball was flying off my racquet much more. He was also playing quite heavy. It was difficult to handle his ball. Yeah, just got used to it a little bit more. Got used to it and could start playing my game a little bit better. Luckily I could turn it around.”

Questioned about why he had never made it passed the fourth round at a major, the world number 7 admitted, “Yeah, I was very impatient…The Grand Slams maybe meant too much for me. This year I actually came into the Australian Open with absolutely no expectations because I was playing horrible. At the ATP Cup I was playing bad, and the weeks before.” He continued, “Grand Slams were always the week where I kind of even wanted it too much. I was doing things in a way too professional. I was not talking to anybody. I wasn’t going out with friends. I wasn’t having dinner. I was just really almost too, too focused. Changed that a little bit this week. I’m doing much more things outside the court.”

I must say having watched a few of his losses in the Australian Open, where he crushed his racket and was crushed by his opponents, it is refreshing to see him mature and actually win these matches deep into grand slams.

Could it be a bigger purpose has helped him focus? He has pledged to donate his entire prizemoney to the Australian bushfire relief if he wins the tournament. Zverev explained that his upbringing was one of the reasons he was giving away the $4.12 million prizemoney if he won. “My parents grew up in the Soviet Union, where you were a professional tennis player, my dad would make money outside the country, but he would have to give it away when he was getting into the country. Funny enough, for them, you know, where they never had any money, you would think that now maybe we have some, you want to keep it all for yourself. But they always said that money is something that should cause change in the world and should be put into a good thing, not keep it in a bank account and do nothing with it.” He continued, “But at the same time I know that there’s people right now in this country [Australia], in this beautiful country, that lost their homes and actually they need the money. They actually depend on it, building up their homes again, building up their houses again, building up the nature that Australia has, the animals as well.”

So, let’s see in the next few days if he gets to donate this biggest prizemoney he has every received? Australia now how has a new man to cheer for.

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  • catherine · February 2, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    I hate the look of it – all those great big photos and large fonts as if readers are all visually (and intellectually) challenged.

    I’d like something busier and laid out in a newsier design. It’s a site which changes almost every day, or should. And links could be clearer.

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