Low Expectations Elevates Alexander Zverev To Greater Heights At Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Low Expectations Elevates Alexander Zverev To Greater Heights At Australian Open

The world No.7 opens up about why he has struggled at grand slams in the past and how he has changed it this year.

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Heading into this year’s Australian Open few had their money on Alexander Zverev staging a deep run after his far from perfect start to the season.

 

At the ATP Cup the German lost all three of his singles matches to top 20 opposition. He looked rusty, erratic and perhaps suffering from the consequences of playing a series of exhibition matches with Roger Federer throughout the off-season. However, at Melbourne Park the 22-year-old has managed to find his footing to remind everybody how much of a threat he can pose at the biggest tournaments of the sport.

This was evident in his latest match against Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals on Wednesday. A three-time grand slam champion who branded his previous match as the best he has played since undergoing surgery. It looked at if Wawrinka would be a stern challenger, but Zverev held his ground to prevail 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Admittedly, it wasn’t a flawless performance at times by the world No.7, who struggled early on. However, he was able to prevail with the help of 13 aces and 34 winners.

Zverev’s victory is a new milestone in his career. He has now reached the semi-finals of a major for the first time. To put this into perspective, prior to this year, he had only reached the quarter-finals twice at the French Open out of 18 grand slam main draw appearances.

“The Grand Slams maybe meant too much for me,” Zverev commented on his previous misfortunes.
“This year I actually came into the Australian Open with absolutely no expectations because I was playing horribly.’
“As I said, it’s going to be a process beginning of the week with the first few matches. I hope I could just get through them and start playing them better as the tournament gets along.
“This is what happened. I hope I can still continue to play better in the semifinals and hopefully maybe in the final.”

In recent year’s Zverev has been tipped as one of the successors to the illustrious Big Three and with good reason. Outside of that group, him and Andy Murray are the only active players to win three or more Masters 1000 titles. He is also a former ATP Finals champion and has won a total of 11 ATP titles. Speaking moments after his win over Wawrinka, he was quick to dismiss the victory as the greatest achievement of his career to date.

“I did win the World Tour Finals, so…. If I get to the final (of the Australian Open) it will be the greatest day of my life, but I like titles.” He said.

Throughout his career, he has had the luxury of working with former stars of the sport. Previously collaborating with Juan Carlos Ferrero and Ivan Lendl. However, both of those partnerships failed to live up to expectations. Instead, it is Zverev’s father who has been the key behind his success in recent times.

“There are a lot of opinions that I should get a new coach. There are a lot of opinions I should change it up. But every time I’m working alone with my dad, we can prove that we can win big titles and go to the further stages of big tournaments.” Zverev explained.
“He’s made me the player that I am. In my opinion, there is no need to change.’
“If he tells me he’s tired then I will get some help, but I think he will be part of my team for a very long time.”

It isn’t just his father that has had a positive impact on the German and his recent surge. Zverev believed at the majors in the past he has ironically been too focused on winning. Something he has changed this week in his bid for a maiden Australian Open title.

“Grand Slams were always the week where I kind of even wanted it too much.” He explained.
“I was doing things way too professionally. I was not talking to anybody. I wasn’t going out with friends. I wasn’t having dinner. I was just really almost too, too focused..’
“I’ve changed that a little bit this week. I’m doing much more things outside the court..”
“Maybe this is a steppingstone. Maybe this is how it should happen. We’ll see how it goes now in two days’ time.” He added.

Zverev is the first German man to reach the semi-final of a major since Tommy Haas at the 2007 US Open. He will play either Rafael Nadal or Dominic Thiem next.

Should he win the title this year, Zverev has pledged to donate all of his prize money to the Australian bush fire appeal.

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Mikael Ymer overcomes Richard Gasquet to advance to the second round in Marseille

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Swedish 21-year-old Next Gen player Mikael Ymer edged past Richard Gasquet 6-3 3-6 7-5 after 2 hours and 22 minutes to reach the second round at the Open 13 in Marseille.

 

Ymer fended off 7 of the 10  break points he faced and broke serve in the third match point in a marathon third game setting up a second round clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Ymer raced out to a 4-0 lead with two consecutive breaks. Gasquet pulled back one break in the seventh game to close the gap to 2-5, but Ymer served out the first set in the ninth game with an ace.

Ymer saved three break points in the sixth game, but Gasquet earned the break on his third chance in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3.

Ymer got an early break in the second game of the third set to open up a 3-0 lead. Gasquet broke back in the ninth game and held serve to draw level to 5-5. Ymer converted his third break point at deuce to seal the third set 7-5 in the 12th game.

Benoit Paire beat Gregoire Barrere 6-4 7-6 (7-1) in the all-French match. Paire earned his only break of the match in the third game of the opening set. He saved two break points in the fourth game of the second set. Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break, where Paire cruised through to a 7-1 win.

Ilya Ivashka overcame Alexei Popyrin 6-1 3-6 6-4. Ivashka broke twice in the second and sixth games to win the first set 6-1. Popyrin earned one break in the fourth game to clinch the second set 6-3. Popyrin got an early break at deuce in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Ivashka broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Both players went on serve until the 10th game when Ivashka sealed the win with a break.

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Alexander Zverev Going In The Right Direction, Says Becker

The German tennis legend gives his verdict on Zverev’s current form following his grand slam breakthrough.

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Former world No.1 Boris Becker believes Alexander Zverev’s recent run at the Australian Open was confirmation that he belongs at the top of men’s tennis.

 

Last month the 22-year-old achieved his best ever grand slam performance by reaching the semi-finals in Melbourne Park before losing to Dominic Thiem. At the tournament he scored wins over Andrey Rublev, who won two consecutive titles prior to the event, and former champion Stan Wawrinka. Zverev has been tipped as a future world No.1 in recent years and remains the only active player outside of the Big Four to have won three or more Masters trophies. Although he has previously struggled to shine in the biggest events of the sport.

“Alexander Zverev has made a great step forward with his first participation in a grand slam semi-final.” Becker told reporters in Berlin on Sunday. “Although he had difficult weeks before, for which there were reasons.”

At the start of the year it looked as if the world No.7 was in trouble. At the ATP Cup he lost all three of his matches played. A performance Becker blames on his off-season training. During November and December Zverev played a series of exhibition matches with Roger Federer across South America and China.

“He didn’t train enough during the winter break and came to Brisbane unprepared.” He said.
“We exchanged some serious words off the court and he took them to heart.’
“Of course I’m happy he had such success. This is also a confirmation for him that he belongs at the top of the world (in tennis).”
“But the competitors never sleep, that’s a never ending story. He has to confirm this again and again.”

So far in his career, Zverev has won 11 ATP titles and has been ranked as high as third in the world. His biggest triumph occurred towards the end of 2018 when he won the ATP Finals in London.

Reflecting on his Melbourne run last month, Zverev believes he managed to achieve the milestone thanks to a new approach he took to the event. Instead of looking at the whole tournament, he narrowed his focus to match-by-match.

“I went here in a different way. I went match by match. Didn’t look very far. I just knew I had opponents in front of me. I had to play well to beat them. That was it.” He said last month. “Whenever I won, I’d sit down in the locker room and somebody told me who I’m playing next.’
“I went step by step, match by match. Usually I [haven’t done] that in Grand Slams.”

Zverev will return to action next week at the Mexican Open in Acapulco. A tournament where he finished runner-up 12 months ago. Becker believes his compatriot could do some damage on the hard courts over the coming weeks with two prestigious North American events taking place next month in Indian Wells and Miami.

“The next tournaments are on hard courts in America. He will play there as well. There he can take a lot of points.” Becker concluded.

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New York Open Sunday Recap: Kyle Edmund Wins His Second Career ATP Title

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Kyle Edmund raising the trophy at the New York Open (newyorkopen.com)

And in an exclusive interview with UbiTennis, runner-up Andreas Seppi of Italy reveals he is pulling out of Delray Beach next week due to an injury suffered in the final.

 

In Sunday’s championship match, neither player faced a break point until 6-5 in the first set.  In that twelfth game, Seppi struggled to make first serves, with Edmund hitting winners off both sides to break and secure the first set 7-5.

Kyle would break again to open the second, as Seppi played another loose game with neutral ball errors and a double fault. Up a set and a break, Edmund began to swing freely. Despite that, Seppi was able to survive a barrage of Edmund groundstroke winners to save multiple break points at 0-3. Edmund would then hold at love to make it 4-1, when Seppi left the court for a medical timeout. When Andreas returned, Edmund broke again by outlasting Seppi in the longest rally of the match. Kyle then closed out the match 7-5, 6-1 to win the second ATP title of his career.

When I spoke with Andreas after the match, he told me he felt something in his left hamstring as he was running for a drop shot in the fifth game of the second set.  Seppi shared he will be skipping the Delray Beach event next week due to the injury, and will head home a week earlier than expected to rest and await the arrival of his first child.

“I just felt like I could really never put him under pressure today,” Seppi told me, when asked about how difficult it was to get into Edmund’s service games.

Edmund had a great serving day, striking 11 aces and facing no break points.  He won 94% of first serve points in the match (31/33), against a player in Seppi who had won 36% of his return games this week prior to today’s final.  I asked Kyle about how crucial his serving was in Sunday’s victory.

“When I got my first serve in I lost a couple points on it, so it really worked well for me. When you get that first strike in- I mean that big first serve in- when I can get on my forehand, that’s where I want to be, and I was winning a lot of points like that this week,” said Edmund.

Kyle also spoke about how important this title is to him.

“When you’re young and training, or playing tennis, these are the sort of things you imagine: wanting to win professional titles,” said Edmund.

In the doubles final, Dominic Inglot and Aisam-ul-Haq-Qureshi won their first title as a team, defeating Reilly Opelka and Steve Johnson 7-6(5), 7-6(6). Inglot and Qureshi initially served for the championship at 5-4 in the second, yet failed to close out the match. In the eventual second set tiebreak, Johnson narrowly missed a forehand down the line at 6-6. On the next point, an unreturned Inglot serve ended the American team’s quest for a title on home soil. Inglot and Qureshi were also finalists last week in Montpellier.

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