The highly talented Alexander Zverev is in his first noteworthy crisis. He loses far too early, slips back in the world rankings – and is completely on his own for the first time.
He tried the hard way. In rock star style, his instrument with heavy blows in front of the audience broke into pieces of debris. Then he tried the gentle way. In quasi-therapeutic sessions, the assembled world press tried to reason about its fluctuating frustration tolerance limit. Now, before he reaches the next level of acute mindfulness and possibly begins to crochet tree trunks or netposts, he has decided on a more obvious, pragmatic move: Alexander Zverev's arc to everything that looks alarmingly red and rectangular like a tennis clay court. He's just fed up with his sport. “First of all,” he said, “I will not touch the bat for a few days.”
So here it is, the first noteworthy crisis of the highly talented, ambitious young tennis player from Hamburg, who rose in record time from the lowlands of the world rankings to the number three. In the autumn in the ATP Finals in London in impressive manner the best of the year struck. And who, after 20 calendar weeks in 2019 without tournament victory, has actually slipped back to fifth place. More than this mini-slide game in the ranking, however, Zverev is troubled by the fact that in the concentration phase he is already throwing trifles out of the curve. In the most recent opening defeat in Rome against Matteo Berrettini (5: 7, 5: 7), these were in his opinion, the lack of match preparation, disagreements in the team – as well as by Italian standards in the merry month of May too stiff breeze.
Ivan Lendl is coming next week
Now, such fluctuations in shape are part of the normal development of a young person in professional life – Alexander Zverev is just 22 years old. For the first time in his career, however, he also feels that he is completely on his own: his manager divorced him in the dispute; the relationship with the girlfriend is over; the father, who cared for him from the beginning, was in the hospital. And his trainer, Ivan Lendl, stayed in the US all spring for pollen allergy. Without the band of helpers, Zverev has had to recognize what professional tennis is, besides a bone job: a business enterprise with an athlete as boss, who maintains a staff of staff, coaches, physiotherapists.
His rapid rise – this is also Zverev has become clear – he owes to the fact that he had long to worry about anything except his forehand and backhand. “To be in the tunnel”, Boris Becker once called this state of the gifted egoism of the athlete, who can concentrate on pure play, on nothing else. There is nothing to stop Zverev from coming back. It probably helps enormously when the sneezing Ivan Lendl joins the team next week.
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