#RolandGarros #Alexander #Zverev #unloved #Top
It is not his name that comes up most often on the lips of fans. However, Alexander Zverev is present in the quarterfinals of Roland-Garros, for the second year in a row. Unleashing less passion than his opponents in the Top 6. Facing Rafael Nadal on Friday, June 3, he too will not be favored by the public this time.
Between the legends Djokovic and Nadal, Medvedev, the first of the “next-gen” to win a Grand Slam, the charm of Tsitsipas or the attractiveness of the young phenomenon Alcaraz, the number 3 in the world collides. The fault is not always the exemplary behavior on the courts, and the extra-sports issues that persecute him.
Even in his native land, the Hamburg native is not “not much appreciated”highlights Klaus Bellstedt, German journalist at Roland for Der Spiegel. “Let’s just say there is no emotional connection between him and the fans. Zverev may have gained a bit of popularity with the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics, but he is still unloved.” According to him, several reasons explain this low awareness: “Yeah, because he no longer lives in Germany. He trains in Monte Carlo, so the public identifies less with him. But also because he has this cold, arrogant, proud side.”
Although tennis is not as practiced and widespread a sport as in other parts of Europe, “as Italy can be totally behind Berrettini or Sinner”highlighted Klaus Bellstedtthe country has had its share of stars in the past, starting with Steffi Graf or Boris Becker. “We absolutely cannot compare Zverev’s aura with Becker’s. There is necessarily a personality part, because Becker was much more approachable and likeable.” explains Klaus Bellstedt, who sees only one solution for “Sascha” to gain popularity: “Winning a first Grand Slam. Even though he won Masters 1000 and has been among the best for a few years. Winning a Grand Slam could be a game changer. Just like Becker, who won hearts after his title, in 1985 in Wimbledon”, concludes the sports journalist.
On the courts, Alexander Zverev doesn’t always shine with his attitude. Often agitated, willing to let his nervousness or frustration boil over, the German has built a reputation for being nervous and angry since his pro debut in 2014. He has already drawn the wrath of the circuit for his bloodshed.
His last escape, one of the most serious, dates from the Acapulco tournament, at the end of February 2022. After a defeat in doubles, he violently hit the referee’s chair with his racket, before insulting him and dealing him a final blow. He had been kicked out of the tournament the following day, when he was still in contention in singles, before the ATP handed him a two-month suspended ban (and a €25,000 fine). “He shot himself in the foot with his lead fans”sums up Klaus Bellstedt.
The German spoke rapidly, after his second round win over Sebastián Báez on May 26, of the pressure to which he is subjected on a daily basis. “We are constantly in the spotlight”was justified. “I think players 20 or 30 years ago don’t realize that today the slightest incident can be seen by a camera and someone is going to write about it. With social media, today there is much more involvement and hate. .”
The German’s image has also been tarnished by accusations of domestic violence by his former partner, Olga Sharypova. In a lengthy article published in Racquet Mag in October 2020, the ITF player had denounced “emotional and physical abuse”with “physical and psychological injuries” caused by the German.
Little less than a year later, in August 2021, Olga Sharypova confirmed her accusations to Slate, referring to a particularly violent episode during the 2019 Shanghai Masters 1000. The German player allegedly beat her and insulted her, pushing her to inject insulin after a discussion. “Since this story, many international journalists “boycott” says Klaus Bellstedt. At his press conferences at Roland-Garros, there are almost only Germans. He laughs more than anything, it doesn’t affect him.”
An independent Safeguarding Report, commissioned by the ATP earlier in the season, has been completed. It represents a key element of the ATP’s overall protection review to ensure that all adults and minors involved in professional tennis are safe and protected from abuse.
— ATP Tour (@atptour) October 4, 2021
The revelations prompted the ATP to open an internal investigation last October into Zverev’s behavior in Shanghai. A news received with relief by the German, who denies the facts of which he is accused, and who hopes to be able to “clear his name”as he explained in a press conference before his entry into the Indian Wells race in 2021.
With this semi-final, Alexander Zverev undoubtedly hopes to start delighting the fans. It will be difficult for him to face a Rafael Nadal king of the Porte d’Auteuil places, pushed by an audience won over to his cause. Not to mention the sports theme. In case of victory, the German would offer the second Grand Slam final of his career, two years after the US Open. And the opportunity to become the second member of the “next generation” to lift a Major.