Tennis ATP Finals: Under the radar: Zverev feels comfortable as an outsider

Tennis ATP Finals: Under the radar: Zverev feels comfortable as an outsider

After a year with ups and downs, Alexander Zverev is back in Turin. He is not one of the favorites. But the memories are encouraging.

For the finishing touches before the year-end highlight, Alexander Zverev once again chose the heaviest possible training partner.

Together with the world number one and top favorite Novak Djokovic, the Olympic champion practiced in the Pala Alpitour in Turin and was clearly shown on the Center Court what awaits him at the ATP finals: top opponents in a row.

“The best eight professionals of the year are here, there are no easy opponents,” Zverev had already said after the draw, which gave him a preliminary group with Wimbledon winner Carlos Alcaraz from Spain and the two Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrei Rublev. It starts for the German number one this Monday (2.30 p.m./Sky) against Alcaraz.

Complicated tennis year

Zverev is first of all happy that he is back at the tournament of the best. Last year he had to withdraw from the ATP Finals due to his serious foot injury and was unable to defend his title in Turin. “Before the French Open in May, I hadn’t even given Turin a thought,” said Zverev.

After all, the 26-year-old’s comeback season had many waves. At first Zverev had a hard time finding his rhythm. In the middle of the year he played really good tennis again and made it to the semi-finals again at Roland Garros. Towards the end of the season, the strains of the long season were clearly noticeable to Zverev again. It was only with difficulty that he secured the ticket for Turin.

Legal dispute as a burden

The legal dispute with his ex-girlfriend was also stressful. At the end of October, the Tiergarten district court imposed a penalty order against Zverev, according to which the tennis professional should pay a fine of 450,000 euros for bodily harm. Zverev rejects the allegations and has filed an objection. Zverev’s lawyers said in a statement that he would use “all means” to counter this. A trial is now looming next year.

Zverev does not want to comment on the process himself. In Turin, the focus for him will once again be on tennis. The Olympic champion has so far been largely under the radar among the big names. Will Djokovic become the sole record winner with his seventh title at the ATP Finals? Will Alcaraz achieve a conciliatory end to the season? Does Jannik Sinner make a big impression in his homeland? And how is the collaboration between tennis legend Boris Becker and the young Danish star Holger Rune developing?

These are the sporting topics in Turin. Zverev is only of marginal interest, especially since he has only shown average performances in the past few weeks since his second title this year in Chengdu, China. Also because he wasn’t completely fit. He now told “Bild am Sonntag” that he had problems with his lungs and had to take medication until mid-December.

Positive memories

But at the ATP finals, Zverev actually still delivered top performances. In his first triumph in 2018, he beat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic one after the other. In 2021 he defeated Djokovic again in the semifinals and the Russian Medvedev in the final. That’s how it should work again this year. “I’m proud to be here again. Let’s see what happens,” said Zverev.

Source: Stern

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