French Open – Alexander Zverev with return without a happy ending: Olympic champion gains new self-confidence

Even after his last game at the French Open, Alexander Zverev was again accompanied by cameras from a streaming service. The staff had followed him every step of the way to training, match preparations, through the catacombs and to press conferences since the German traveled from Geneva to the French capital 13 days ago.

The really big happy ending for the second season of the documentary series promoted by the associations of the men’s and women’s tour ATP and WTA, which will be released in early 2024, was on Friday after the 3: 6, 4: 6, 0: 6 defeat in the semifinals of the world’s most important clay court tournament against Casper Ruud. Zverev was nevertheless pleased that all this was recorded for posterity from different angles.

“I will be incredibly happy after what happened last year. A year later I was back in the semifinals,” replied Zverev, when asked about the shooting with pride in his voice. After that, his statements immediately applied to the match, which he said he had had to play slightly impaired.

French Open

“There it happened!” Zverev loses to Ruud in the semifinals


“It’s really clear that I lost today. But Casper is one of the best players on clay. If you’re not 100 percent against him and you can’t make a physical match against him, you don’t stand a chance against him. And I had no chance today,” said the 26-year-old. He suffered a slight strain in his thigh shortly before the end of training on Thursday.

Semi-finals: Zverev almost no chance against Ruud – highlights

Zverev: “I had my problems”

The last reporters left the Jean Boin training ground about 15 minutes before the end of the session and didn’t notice anything. His team and his brother Mischa had not reported anything during the broadcast on Eurosport. Only in the press conference did he provide information in response to specific inquiries.

In the English part of the question-and-answer session, Zverev had already been asked whether he was physically at full capacity. Zverev thought for several seconds before commenting. “Look, I don’t want to take anything away from Casper’s performance. He was the much better player but I had my problems.” This naturally led to some questions, which Zverev later answered in German with the strain.

Zverev clarifies after bankruptcy: “Small strain” on the thigh

“Nevertheless,” said Zverev at the end, “I think if I play a ball or two better, the match can turn around.” He pointed to two break chances. In the first set he missed finding his way back into the set at 3:5 with a simply devious forehand. Captured by the cameras, Zverev’s otherwise rather stoic father was seen tearing his hair in disbelief.

In the following set at 1: 2, Zverev played a miserable forehand stop at breakball, which is not even part of his repertoire.

Zverev satisfied with comeback in Paris

The slight injury changed the structure of his game, sometimes leading to shorter rallies, said Zverev. “Then I try things that I’m not so comfortable with. Then it becomes easier against me.”

Alexander Zverev at the French Open

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Looking at the big picture, Zverev seemed happy with himself after the best two weeks since his comeback and seemed much more relaxed overall than two days ago after his quarter-final success. Boris Becker, who had also warned in the recent past, praised Zverev Eurosport-Microphone.

“If you see that a year ago he left Center Court in tears and on crutches, then he’s back again: Sascha is a world-class player again and was in a Grand Slam semi-final again. He has to be optimistic about that. He’s back – that’s the best news.”

Zverev: “I’m back on the level”

Zverev himself found similar words in the press conference: “I’m back at the level I was at from playing tennis. I can’t really say that today, it wasn’t really good. But if you look at the two weeks as a whole , you can say I’m playing at a very high level again, which is nice for me. I have to see the whole time here.”

A reporter’s question after the tournament in Stuttgart caused a brief confusion. Zverev had kept a wild card free for the lawn tournament, which starts at the weekend.

“There it happened!” Zverev loses to Ruud in the semifinals

Zverev looked to the right at his manager Sergej Bubka junior. After a short exchange in Russian and a smile, Zverev replied: “I have no idea. If I had won, I would have played the final on Sunday. I assume that I will go home now. Stuttgart was the plan, but my body is important to me too.”

It is now clear: Zverev will host the Boss Open (live and on-demand at discovery+) miss. On Saturday morning, the organizer announced the end of the Olympic champion.

Top ten within reach

Zverev will first open again in Halle and then in Wimbledon, where he is not one of the favorites. Despite his size and serve strength, Zverev, as he repeated on Friday, doesn’t really feel comfortable on the green surface. It is the only Grand Slam tournament in which he has never reached the quarterfinals.

Alexander Zverev after reaching the semifinals at the French Open

Photo credit: Imago

In the long term, however, these two weeks in Paris should give you courage for the rest of the season. Zverev defended his points and thus also the placement in Wimbledon. Not many believed him capable of that. If he stays injury-free, he should be able to attack the top 10 in the world rankings at the latest by the hard court season in North America in late summer.

He definitely belongs there with the level called up in Paris. For victories in Grand Slam tournaments, Zverev only has one top 10 win in the four major events, you need total fitness, fewer lows and even more consistent confidence in your own strength.

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Zverev exclusive: body played “the biggest” role

French Open

jesses! Zverev will have bad dreams about the breakball tomorrow


French Open

With the papa fist: Zverev completes the rally perfectly


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