EXCLUSIVE – Alexander Zverev on his injury: “When I walked again for the first time, I was like a kid”

It is the main focus of the Diriyah Cup, the end-of-year exhibition contested in Saudi Arabia (to be followed live on Eurosport and the Eurosport application). It is there, seven months and five days later his terrible wound on the Philippe-Chatrier court in the Roland-Garros semi-final against Rafael Nadal, which Alexander Zverev set foot on a court for the first time. Not an official competition, of course, but the opportunity to see him again against the best. Winner of Dominic Thiem for his entry, he then lost against Daniil Medvedev (6-4, 6-0). But the main thing was elsewhere.

The reigning Olympic champion is just happy to be a tennis player again, as he told Eurosport, because this period has been difficult for him, physically but also psychologically: “I’ve missed everything for the past seven months. It hasn’t been easy for me. I missed the circuit, the tournaments, even the interviews, absolutely everything I missed.”

“And to think that before his serious injury, Zverev was the boss on the court against Nadal…”

I have no goals, I just want to have fun

By his own admission, he even had to go through it to measure how much he needed tennis. “When you’re on the circuit, he explains, you play 11 months out of 12, you have a new tournament every week, you travel all the time. You forget to appreciate that you are above all a tennis player who has the chance to play in front of 20,000 people in the biggest stadiums in the world and that you practice the sport that you love more than anything. You tend to forget all that…”

His serious injury, taking him away from his job for a long time, came to call him to order in a way. “When you’re out for seven months, with an injury that prevents you from doing anything, you start to realize how much you miss it. And to be honest, I really missed it terribly. After this injury, I really wonder what I could do without tennis“, admits ‘Sascha’.

What can he expect in the short and medium term? When he was battling Nadal in Paris, he could not only dream of his first Grand Slam title, but also of the world number one spot, which he would in all likelihood have won during the summer if he didn’t. hadn’t stayed on the floor. For now, Zverev does not reason in terms of ambitions. “I have no goal, I just want to have fun, to have fun, that’s my goal“, slips the ex-world number 2, today fallen out of the Top 10 (12th) after his misadventure.

Alexander Zverev

Credit: Getty Images

As long as my foot is healthy…

He sees his return to the pitch as part of a “process” started with his operation and then his long rehabilitation. The rest will come back gradually, he hopes, but he will not rush: “The injury taught me patience and to appreciate all the little things. When I first walked again, I was like a kid. I felt like I had won the biggest tournament in the world.”

Tennistically, Alexander Zverev is therefore ready to take his troubles patiently. “As long as my foot is healthy…“, he says. Confident in the long term about his ability to regain his best level, he does not expect miracles in the first weeks, even the first month. This is why he has decided not to set any goals for the year 2023.

And as often, he wants to be inspired by the greatest. “People say when Rafa or Roger came back from injury they were 100% back but that’s not true, judge the german. Last year, at the Abu Dhabi exhibition, Rafa was losing against everyone. Then he played his best tennis at the Australian Open. It had been the same for Roger at the Hopman Cup a few years ago. And in Melbourne, he was himself again. I hope the process will be the same for me, that I can be at a good level in AustraliaIn the meantime, he relishes the simple pleasure of playing tennis.

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