MADRID: With 1000 points to defend at this week’s Madrid Open, Alexander Zverev faces a stern test during what has been a turbulent season both on and off the court.
Since winning the ATP Finals in November, the German has only reached the quarter-finals or better in two out of eight tournaments. Doing so in Acapulco, where he finished runner-up to Nick Kyrgios, as well as a quarter-final appearance in Munich. Overall, he has won 11 out of 19 matches played heading into this week (excluding the Davis Cup).
“I’m happy with how things are improving. I’m happy I’m starting to play better and starting to feel more confident and I think every week that I play is going to get better and better.” Zverev said earlier this week.
Away from this tour, Zverev has also endured a tough time. He is currently in a legal battle with his former manager Patricio Apey, who is arguing his contract with the player is still valid. On top of that, he recently separated from his girlfriend Olga Sharypova.
Zverev’s 2019 record
Australian Open – R4
Acapulco – RU
Indian Wells – R3
Miami – R2
Marrakech – R2
Monte Carlo – R3
Barcelona – R2
Munich – QF
Despite his roller coaster journey in recent months, two of Zverev’s prime rivals have backed him to regain his form. He is the only active player outside of the Big Four to win three or more Masters 1000 titles. Overall, Zverev has 10 ATP trophies to his name.
“He won this tournament (Madrid) last year and he possesses the quality and as a player, he possesses the game that will get him in a position to win any tournament on any surface, really. He has proven that.” Novak Djokovic said of the world No.4.
“I think you guys have to give him a little break. I know the expectations are high. But, look, he’s a great guy. He loves the sport. I have known him for a long time. And he’s dedicated. He’s got a good team of people around him. He has won some big events. He’s proven that he belongs to the top and he is still there.”
Guided by Ivan Lendl on the tour, some are wondering what needs to be done to help Zverev overcome his current demons. He is not the first player to experience problems. Rafael Nadal is also experiencing a troublesome 2019, which is partly due to injury as well as a recent bout of illness.
In Nadal’s eyes, Zverev doesn’t require any advice from him. Instead, he outlined that the process is different for every player.
“I’m nobody to tell him what he needs. He has a great team around him, family around him. And probably he will receive the right advice for everything, for his education, for his tennis and for all the things that really matter in his life.” He said.
“Tennis is just a part of the life of all of us. There are a lot of things that are more important than tennis in this world and that’s it. It is not a drama, to lose a couple of matches. He’s a great player and he will fight for the most important things.”
Zverev starts his title defense in Madrid on Wednesday against David Ferrer, who is retiring from the sport this week. He will be hoping the lightning doesn’t strike twice after losing to the Spaniard in Miami earlier this year.
Points Zverev is defending for the rest of the clay swing
– Madrid: 1000 (champion)
– Rome: 600 (runner-up)
– Roland Garros: 360 (quarter-finalist)
TOTAL = 1960 points
(VIDEO) Novak Djokovic Makes Tearful Tribute To Mentor Kobe Bryant After Australian Open Win
The world No.2 pays his respect to ‘one of the greatest athletes of all time’ on the Rod Laver Arena.
World No.2 Novak Djokovic shed tears following his quarter-final win over Milos Raonic after paying tribute to NBA legend Kobe Bryant.
The 16-time grand slam champion took to the Rod Laver Arena wearing a green zip-up top. On the top right of his jacket with Bryant’s initial along with the numbers 8 and 24. The jersey numbers Bryant worn throughout his 20-year NBA career with the LA Lakers. A love heart was also placed under the numbers on Djokovic’s top.
“’I don’t know what we could say. It really caught us by surprise.” An emotional Djokovic said during his on-court interview with John McEnroe on Tuesday.
‘He was one of the greatest athletes of all time, he inspired myself and many other people around the world. I had that fortune to have a personal relationship with him over the last 10 years.’
‘When I needed some advice and support, he was there for me. He was my mentor, my friend, it’s just heartbreaking to see what has happened to him and his daughter. It’s unbelievable.’
Bryant was killed on Sunday in a helicopter crash that also claimed the life of his 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others. As an athlete, he achieved numerous milestones. Including being named the 2008 NBA Most Valuable Player and two-time NBA Finals MVP. He was also a two-time Olympic gold medallist and played in 18 All Star Games.
Just days before Bryant’s death, Djokovic spoke about their friendship during an interview with ESPN. Praising him for the support he received during his elbow injury and fall in the rankings during 2017 and the start of 2018. Reflecting on the conversations the two have had, he said he received some ‘valuable guidance.’
“Kobe has been one of my mentors,” Djokovic told ESPN. “I’ve had several phone conversations with him and also of course when we see each other live in the past couple of years. When I was going through the injury with my elbow and struggling to mentally and emotionally handle all of these different things that were happening to me and dropping in the Rankings and then having to work my way up, he was one of the people who was really there for me to give me some very valuable advice and guidelines to kind of believe and trust in myself, trust the process that I’ll be back.”
Djokovic will play Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
The tribute can be watched below (from 00:30 to 01:40)
Dominic Thiem reaches his first quarter final at the Australian Open
Dominic Thiem eased past Gael Monfils 6-2 6-4 6-4 after 1 hour and 50 minutes on the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open. Thiem has extended his winning streak to 6-0 in his head-to-head matches against Monfils.
He fought back from two sets to one down to beat Australia’s Alex Bolt in the second round, but he won eight of his past nine sets to advance to the quarter finals.
Thiem got two breaks in the first set and never faced a single break point in the entire match. The Austrian player converted his fourth break point after three deuces, as Monfils missed a backhand volley wide. Thiem started the third set with an early break in the first game, as Monfils hit an inside-out forehand wide from the middle of the court wide. Thiem won his next service games and held his final game at love.
Thiem will face Rafael Nadal in a re-match of last year’s Roland Garros final.
“I think that I played my best match so far at this year’s Australian Open. It’s a very good feeling. The score looks way easier than the match was. I think I was lucky to make an early break in each set and I was managing to hold my serve well. I am so happy because I am in the quarter final here for the first time”, said Thiem.
Alexander Zverev tops Andrey Rublev to set Australian Open quarter final against Stan Wawrinka
Alexander Zverev beat his friend Andrey Rublev 6-4 6-4 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open for the first time in his career and his third at Grand Slam level.
Zverev broke serve once in each set. The German player has not dropped a set at this year’s edition of the Australian Open.
Zverev ended Rublev’s 15-match winning streak. Rublev had not lost a match since October, winning four matches at the Davis Cup last November and back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide.
In the opening set Zverev earned his first break at 3-3, as Rublev hit a forehand into the net. He held his serve to consolidate the break and wrapped up the first set after 29 minutes, when Rublev hit a crosscourt backhand wide.
Zverev started the second set with an immediate break in the first game of the second set and closed it out with a hold at love with an ace after 29 minutes.
Zverev broke serve for the third time in the match in the ninth game of the third set to take a 5-4, when Rublev made a groundstroke error, and sealed the win with a forehand volley.
“It feels amazing. I played some great matches against some great opponents. This is Andrey’s first loss of the season, having won two tournaments and getting through to the fourth round with unbelievable tennis. I have known Andrey since we were ten years old. I think he will be top 15, top 10 very soon. I am just happy and I hope I can continue”,said Zverev.
Zverev will face Stan Wawrinka in the quarter final. The German star beat Wawrinka twice in their previous two head-to-head matches in St. Petersburg 2016 and Miami 2017.
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