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French Open: “Hardest year of my life”: Zverev’s big chance in Paris

French Open: “Hardest year of my life”: Zverev’s big chance in Paris

After a successful night shift, Alexander Zverev has good prospects for the second week of the French Open. He is critical of the late start of the evening games in Paris.

Shortly after midnight, Alexander Zverev formulated an emotional declaration of love. Exhausted but happy, he talked about the trauma he had overcome in Paris – and thanks to the unexpectedly promising prospects, he was looking forward to “a lot of fun” in the second week at the French Open.

“It was the hardest year of my life, I love tennis more than anything else in life. I don’t play the sport for money, not for fame or anything else,” Zverev enthused in Paris’s largest tennis stadium after reaching the round of 16 early Sunday morning. “When they took that away from me, it was very difficult. I’m very happy to be back here.”

Zverev survived the first anniversary of his serious injury 3: 6, 7: 6 (6: 3), 6: 1, 7: 6 (7: 5) against the American Frances Tiafoe in a night shift after a weak start. Despite a moment of shock when he slipped almost exactly where he badly injured his ankle in the semifinals against Rafael Nadal in 2022. After difficult weeks with numerous setbacks, Zverev suddenly finds himself the favorite for the third semi-final in a row at the classic clay court in Paris.

Grigor Dimitrov is waiting in the round of 16

“It won’t get any easier, that’s for sure,” said the 26-year-old with a view to the next duel with Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov on Monday. “I’m happy to be here for the second week and hopefully I’ll still have a long way to go here.” The experienced Bulgarian prevented Daniel Altmaier’s next surprise and a German round of 16 duel with a clear three-set victory. “Of course Dimitrov is an amazing player, he may be playing his best tennis on clay that he has ever played,” said Zverev.

He himself is still a long way from his former top level. With slight mistakes, the former world number two was in danger several times against Tiafoe, and the serve wobbled again and again. “I don’t think he’s back at the top level again,” said the American friend. “But he will soon be at his best again.”

And Boris Becker also believes in Paris in Zverev’s chances, who is still chasing his first Grand Slam title: “He got better, looser from set to set,” praised the Eurosport expert. “That was a very important victory for Sascha for the second week. I have a good feeling, something is still possible.” Zverev would also be favored in a possible quarter-final against Argentinian Tomas Martin Etcheverry or Yoshihito Nishioka from Japan.

Zverev criticizes evening games

Before thinking about the further course of the tournament, Zverev had to regenerate as quickly as possible from the second evening game in a row. Shortly before half past one, freshly showered, he entered the smaller of the two main press conference rooms in the basement of the Court Philippe-Chatrier with a “Good morning”. He will probably go to sleep at four or five o’clock at the earliest, he reported and was critical of the late start of the evening games at Stade Roland Garros.

“If we play five sets, it can go until two in the morning,” said Zverev. “Somewhere that’s not so healthy anymore for the player who wins the match and then has to play again the next day like now.” His game in the third round had started after eight-thirty in the evening and didn’t end until 18 minutes after midnight.

Basically, he likes the so-called night sessions, he emphasized, but it is more pleasant for the body to go to bed at 11 p.m. “I think that in the night sessions you can let the women play because they play a maximum of three sets,” said Zverev. From the semi-finals at the latest, the players in Paris are only required to play during the day.

Source: Stern

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