Tennis: DTB team without Zverev faces a complicated duel in Hungary

DTB team without Zverev faces a complicated duel in Hungary

Jan-Lennard Struff leads the German Davis Cup team after Alexander Zverev’s cancellation. photo

© Frank Molter/dpa

With Alexander Zverev, the German tennis men would have been the favorites in Hungary. But Zverev is missing due to illness. Will the start of the Davis Cup season be a tough game?

The pictures of the Australian Open semi-finalist Alexander Zverev continues to be present as we prepare for the Davis Cup qualifying round in Hungary.

At the entrance to the modern multifunctional arena in Tatabánya, Zverev lights up on a large monitor as well as on the televisions in the draw room. But the planned star of this two-day tennis duel didn’t even show up in the small town around 60 kilometers west of Budapest. The cancellation of Zverev, who is ill, makes the challenges on Friday and Saturday in Hungary much more difficult for the German tennis men.

“He can make the difference in a duel like this. He was in great shape,” lamented team boss Michael Kohlmann. “Of course he only wishes us the best. He is keen to play in the later rounds. The win is very important for us.”

Zverev brings viral infection with him from Melbourne

Zverev is struggling with a cold that weakened him in Melbourne. He alone could have secured two of the three necessary points in Tatabánya as the favorite in the individual. With a win the team will qualify for the group stage in September. In the event of a defeat, the DTB would have to give up the chance of the Davis Cup title again early and instead worry about remaining in the world group, as in 2023.

“I would say it’s 50:50,” predicted Jan-Lennard Struff and added with regard to Zverev: “I don’t know whether we would have been such clear favorites with Sascha. Of course it helps, but the opposing team is good , and we’re playing away. That’s why it’s a difficult task – no matter who is on the team.”

Struff and Koepfer should sort it out individually

Struff (24th in the world rankings) takes over the role of German number one in Zverev’s absence. He will face Marton Fucsovics in second singles on Friday. Before that, Dominik Koepfer will take on Hungarian number one Fabian Marozsan (3 p.m./DAZN and TennisChannel). Kevin Krawietz and Tim Pütz are scheduled for the doubles on Saturday (1 p.m.), followed by two more singles.

It was only on Wednesday that it was certain that Zverev would not recover in time. But Koepfer (60th) had already suspected that he could be an option. “He’s caught something, it’s clear when you play so much tennis for weeks, he’s forgiven,” said Koepfer: “It’s a shame that he’s not there, of course, but I think we have a good team. That’s why I think we can compensate for that.”

Koepfer had a strong match in the defeat against Zverev in the first round of the Australian Open. But the Hungarians are by no means to be underestimated in the sold-out hall in front of around 6,500 spectators and on the slower hard court they chose. Marozsan (57th) impressed in 2023 with a win against Spanish tennis star Carlos Alcaraz and impressed Kohlmann in reaching the third round in Australia. Experienced Fucsovics (82nd) ​​was already in the top 30 of the world rankings.

“That’s why you play tennis”

“It’s definitely fun to play away with fans who are against you. It’s a cool atmosphere. That’s why you play tennis,” said Koepfer and speculated: “It comes down to one or two points. It’ll be a close one Encounter.”

This is one of the reasons why Kohlmann would have been happy to forego Maximilian Marterer’s subsequent nomination, even if Zverev could only have been a “huge help” on Saturday, the second match day. “I signaled to him that I would wait until the last moment because I wanted to give us the chance that he would definitely come,” said Kohlmann. “We then had to make a decision.” Going into the weekend with four players would have been too “risky” and “not professional”.


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