It took three separate calls to persuade former top 10 player David Ferrer to join the team of world No.7 Alexander Zverev.
Just a year after ending his professional career, the Spaniard finds himself back on the Tour in a new capacity in what is his first top-level coaching job. After travelling to Monte Carlo for a trial period, it was confirmed that Ferrer will be on Zverev’s team for at least the rest of 2020. Although getting him to join in the first place was a tough task.
“There were other proposals, but Zverev called me three times to ask if I could be his coach,” Ferrer said during an interview with Punto de Break. “The first two I told him that I couldn’t, that I had other things in mind, but during confinement (lockdown) he called me a third time. I liked that, that he was the one who contacted me, he encouraged me to try.”
Both men are fairly familiar with each other after facing off nine times on the ATP Tour, including three in 2019. Zverev was the last player Ferrer played against at the Madrid Open before officially retiring from the sport at the age of 37. Following that match the German described his new coach as ‘one of the most loved people on the Tour.’
Ferrer isn’t the only person guiding the 23-year-old on the Tour. He is also mentored by his father who is a former player himself and won two gold medals at the 1985 summer Universiade. Under the new arrangement, Ferrer outlines the area that he is solely responsible for at present.
”I am the one who designs all the exercises. When I am not present, I contact his father and tell him about everything I want to do,” he explains.
“In this sense, Sascha is learning a lot from me and his father also really likes the pattern that I wanted to bet on.’
“I don’t know if I’m the head coach or not, to this day I don’t care, I don’t have egos for that. What I can tell you is that I do the exercises.”
In recent years Zverev has been one of the players tipped to take over the reign of the Big Three in the future. His resume currently features 11 ATP titles that include three at Masters level and one in the ATP Finals. He first broke into the world’s top three back in 2017 when he became the youngest player to do so for a decade (Novak Djokovic 2007).
Although it hasn’t all been smooth running for the German who has only won one ATP tournament over the past 18 months. Doing so at the 2019 Geneva Open on clay. Although in January he achieved his best Grand Slam result so far with a run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open.
“I think he has a lot of room for improvement mentally and tennis too,” Ferrer commented. “Maybe in playing more forward, or certain technical aspects that he can polish.’
“We are talking about a player who is already very good, but by improving certain tennis and mental aspects he can win Grand Slams and be very high. You always need to evolve and improve in your game, this is what motivates me the most, that even knowing everything that has already won, we know that it can still be better. I believe it 100%.”
Zverev experienced a short lived return to competitive tennis this week at the Western and Southern Open in New York. Seeded fifth in the tournament, he crashed out in his opening match to Andy Murray. Zverev served for the win at 5-4 in the decisive set but then got broken twice in a row.
“The truth is that Murray played at a great level in the first set, it surprised me,” Ferrer commented on the match.
“Then at 5-4 and service (for the match) came that moment where the tension prevented him from closing and cost him the game. It’s the first game so I can’t make an assessment yet. His attitude was good, I’m not worried.”
The next test will be at the US Open where Ferrer says he expects to see ‘more surprises’ in the early rounds than normal following the Tour break. Once again Novak Djokovic will be the favourite to win the title as Zverev chases after his maiden major trophy. Although his new coach explains that it is an ongoing process that shouldn’t be rushed.
“We know that the higher you are, the more pressure you have, especially if you are young and have already won important things, people will always ask you to take the next leap,” he said.
“What the team has to achieve is that the player is as calm as possible and goes step by step.’
“We just started, I don’t want to venture out and talk too much either. What worries me now is that he improves mentally and tennis, that will be what leads him to have options to win important titles, whether they are Grand Slams, Masters 1000 or whatever.”
Zverev will play Kevin Anderson in his first round match at Flushing Meadows.
John Isner upsets Andrey Rublev to reach quarterfinals in Madrid
John Isner is into the Madrid quarter-finals after a last set tiebreak win over Andrey Rublev.
The American once again needed three sets and two tiebreakers to earn a top 10 scalp.
John Isner booked his spot in the quarterfinals of the Mutua Madrid Open by upsetting the number six seed Andrey Rublev 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 in two hours and five minutes hitting 43 winners and 29 aces in the win.
“I’ve always served well, the conditions for the server are fantastic, physically I was heavy-legged today, I finished late last night, the good thing is I finished a bit earlier today and I should be ready to go tomorrow, I’m going to need all of my legs tomorrow against Dominic (Thiem) and I’m looking forward to it for sure”.
The first set was pretty routine and we didn’t see a single break of serve the entire set as the first set would be decided by a tiebreaker. That’s where the American ran away with it jumping out to a 4-0 lead playing some great tennis and he would take it 7-4 to win the first set 7-6.
The Russian was keen to get back in the match in the second set and earned the first two breakpoints of the match at 1-1 and broke to take an early 2-1 lead. That break was all the number six seed needed to serve out the second set taking it 6-3 and setting up a deciding third set.
The number six seed once again had the first break opportunity of the third set but it was immediately saved with the big booming serve from the Greensboro, North Carolina native. That was the only breakpoint of the set and once again the match would be decided by a tiebreaker.
This one was much more closer and we didn’t see a break of serve until 4-3 when the American returned the Russian serve with a powerful forehand to take a 5-3 lead.
He would go on to serve it out to win the match and set up a quarterfinal encounter with the Austrian Domenic Them and he spoke about the matchup in his post-match press conference.
“He’s fresh, he’s won two matches and I think he is the second-best clay courter right now so it’s going to be a very tough task for me tomorrow especially on this court because he hits the ball so big and pretty fast and he does so many things well and I am going to have to play extremely well if I want any chance to beat him”
Theim currently holds a 2-1 lead in the head to head and their most recent meeting was back in 2017 in Laver Cup on an indoor hardcourt when the Austrian won in three sets.
Christian Garin reaches his second career Masters 1000 quarter final in Madrid
Chile’s Christian Garin has reached his second Masters 1000 quarter final with a 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 win over world number 3 Danil Medvedev at the Madrid Mutua Open.
Garin earned an early break after a loose service game from Medvedev at 1-1. The second set went on serve with no breaks of serve en route to the tie-break. Medvedev cruised through to a 7-3 win with two mini-breaks. Garin broke twice in the fourth and sixth games to claim the third set 6-1.
Garin will face either this year’s Serbian Open champion Matteo Berrettini or Federico Delbonis. The Chilean player is tied at 1-1 in his two head-to-head matches against Berrettini and won his only previous match against Delbonis en route to last year’s title at the Rio Open. Garin won all his five titles on clay in Houston and Munich in 2019, Rio de Janeiro and Cordoba in 2020 and Santiago de Chile in 2021.
Jannik Sinner Vows To ‘Come Back Stronger’ After Madrid Misfortune
The 19-year-old believes his latest loss will help him grow as a player.
Italian rising star Jannik Sinner has revealed that he was suffering from an allergy during his latest match at the Madrid Open but has insisted it wasn’t the reason for his loss.
The world No.18 crashed out of the tournament in straight sets on Wednesday to Australia’s Alexi Popyrin. A player ranked 57 places lower than him who has reached the third round of a Masters tournament for only the second time in his career. The Italian struggled behind his second serve where he won just 41% of the points. A frustrating outcome for Sinner who led the match 5-3 before losing 6-7(5), 2-6.
“I suffer from allergy and here there is a lot of pollen, I also play with contact lenses and everything. This bothered me a lot,” said Sinner who was coughing throughout the match.
“I suffered more because there was more sun and in that field (court) he entered easily, but I did not lose for this (reason). He played better than me.”
The 19-year-old has recently broken into the world’s top 20 following what has been a solid start to the season. At the Miami Open he became only the fourth teenager in history to reach the final after Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. On the clay he recently reached the semi-finals of the Barcelona Open before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Despite his disappointment in Madrid, Sinner is hoping that it will help him become an even better playing in the coming weeks heading into the French Open. A Grand Slam which he reached the quarter-finals at on his debut last year.
“This defeat helps me to grow, now I go to the court to work to be at the top for the next match. I’ll come back stronger than before,” he stated.
Sinner will be hoping to get back on track next week when plays his home tournament at the Italian Open. He made his Rome debut back in 2019 where he defeated Steve Johnson in the first round before going out. A year later he reached the third round before losing to Grigor Dimitrov in three sets.
As for Popyrin, he will face a showdown against top seed Rafael Nadal in Thursday.
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