French Open: “Win one”: Zverev’s fight against the semifinal curse

French Open: “Win one”: Zverev’s fight against the semifinal curse

For the fourth time in a row, the German tennis star is in the round of the best four. Huge joy? Not at all! Zverev finally wants to reach the final and then win the title. In a TV interview, he is annoyed.

Alexander Zverev has ticked off his impressive semi-final series at the French Open almost routinely, but just getting into the round of the best four is no longer enough for him. “I’m glad that I’m in a semi-final again,” said the German tennis star, adding with a smile: “Hopefully I can win one.” The Hamburg native feels ready for the repeat of last year’s duel in the semi-finals on Friday against the Norwegian Casper Ruud (not before 5.30 p.m./Eurosport). At the fourth attempt, he should make it to the final in Paris for the first time.

Zverev has not managed to do that in the past three years – for very different reasons. In 2021, he lacked some experience in the five-set thriller against Stefanos Tsitsipas. In 2022, he dueled on equal terms with clay court king Rafael Nadal before a serious foot injury stopped him. In 2023, he was not yet back in top physical shape after a forced break of several months. And now?

Tiebreak King of Roland Garros

“Earlier in my career, I wasn’t mentally ready for Grand Slams. I often got very nervous and couldn’t play my best tennis,” said the 27-year-old. But the many positive and negative experiences on and off the court have made him mature since then. “The nervousness goes away over time.” Proof of this: At the French Open, he is the undisputed tiebreak king with a record of 23:2 wins.

But Zverev also knows that he still has to improve on his title mission compared to the 6:4, 7:6 (7:5), 6:4 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday evening against the Australian outsider Alex De Minaur. Ruud is considered a savvy tactician who knows how to exploit Zverev’s weaknesses, especially on his forehand. “I think I have to play my best tennis to have a chance,” said Zverev: “He is a great player. Two finals in a row, third semifinal in a row – that speaks for itself.”

Ruud rested, Zverev in rhythm

Zverev does not necessarily see the fact that his opponent, who benefited from the quarter-final withdrawal of injured defending champion Novak Djokovic, has two more days off to regenerate as a disadvantage. The 11.5 hours that the world number four spent on the court in his last three matches at the Stade Roland Garros were well handled by him. “Physically, I feel good. I have no worries in my body. I hope it stays that way and that I can play a good match,” said the Olympic champion.

Zverev also does not want to use the still rather cool weather in Paris as an excuse for a possible failure in the semi-finals again. “Sure, I want 27 degrees and sunshine and for the ball to bounce over my shoulder. But that’s not a wish list, you can’t control the weather,” he said. “There are four players left in the tournament and I’m one of them. That’s the main thing.”

Annoyed in TV interview

But Zverev doesn’t seem to be quite so relaxed. In the Eurosport interview immediately after his quarter-final victory, he literally made the reporter look stupid. He was asked why the semi-final against Ruud would not be lost in three sets this time, unlike last year. “I don’t know if it will be a different result. We’ll see on Friday,” Zverev replied, visibly annoyed. When asked how he assessed the match, he said: “Those were three questions.” Then he broke off the interview and left.

Source: Stern

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