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In the alleys of Roland-Garros, very smart who had seen it coming before the starting gun of this fortnight. Camped in the place of number three in the world for some time -2017 precisely-, Alexander Zverev could sit on the world throne, on Sunday, June 5. For this, the equation is “simple” on paper for the German: win the first Grand Slam of his career, the Porte d’Auteuil.
Before potentially pulling off a double whammy, he will first have to unseat local master Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic’s top scorer, in the semi-finals on Friday.
In Tuesday’s quarterfinals, the 25-year-old tamed fiery young 6-year-old Carlos Alcaraz.me global. Heralded as one of the favorites after a thunderous start to the season, the 19-year-old Spaniard suddenly showed his age, his focus on the event, his emotion and his lack of experience.
“I told him on the net that he was going to win this tournament many times, not just once. Hopefully I can win it, before he starts beating us all and we don’t stand a chance.”joked (only halfway) Zverev, who had so far lost all eleven of his matches against the top 10 Grand Slam players.
His cry of rage at the end of the game, almost a roar, showed immense relief coupled with pride. That of having been able, finally, to hold his rank and honor an appointment (with a capital letter) in Grand Slam.
Serial disappointments at Grand Slam
From the moment we have seen his tall silhouette (1.98 m) gravitate, we would almost forget that Alexander Zverev, who turned professional in 2013, is “only” 25 years old. The double winner of the Masters (2018, 2021) -which brings together the eight best players of the season at the end of the year- has dreamed of winning the Grail for a few years.
But whether in Melbourne, New York, London or during the meeting at Porte d’Auteuil, it has so far stalled. First physique: unable to keep pace through five sets, not that long ago. So mind: “In the beginning of my career, I had a lot of problems with the Grand Slams, admitted at the beginning of the fortnight. I hope I can continue to stay stable in the future. »
A US Open finalist in 2020 against Dominic Thiem, he had served for the match before leaving courtesy to the Austrian, who lifted his first Grand Slam trophy in his place. A semi-finalist in Paris in 2021, defeated by the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, the reigning Olympic champion has lost enough time for his liking. “I am no longer 20, nor 21, I have already said it several times. I’m at the point where I want to win and where I’m supposed to win too.” insisted this Tuesday after his victory over Carlos Alcaraz (6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6).
Against the Spaniard, who had inflicted a correction on him in Madrid three weeks ago, the German took his revenge, in style. Three hours of fierce battle during which he played the metronomes on serve and backhand, his two main weapons. But it’s probably not so much the game as his patience and nerve-wracking that impressed him the most.
“I knew the match would be long and very physical. I shouldn’t show my emotions too much, because that drains your energy. I had to keep my cool throughout the match, although I missed chances in the third [set], which I lost by the way. »
While the public leaned more towards Carlos Alcaraz, Alexander Zverev did not move an eyelash. He also didn’t waste his nerves on the slightest fuss, his favorite scapegoat.
blood in acapulco
A few weeks ago, he fell back on his flaws, denting an already contrasted image a little more. During the tournament in Acapulco (Mexico), the right-hander was left out of his mind after a double lost match in the super tie-break with the Brazilian Marcelo Melo. He hit the umpire’s chair three times with his racket, sat down, then got up to insult the umpire and deliver a final blow with the sieve on him.
Immediately banned from the tournament, he had to pay a $40,000 (€35,600) fine, before receiving a two-month suspended ban, plus an additional $25,000 fine from the ATP. “The fine and suspension are suspensive, provided that, during a trial period ending on February 22, 2023 [un an après l’incident], the player does not commit any other infringement of the disciplinary code”, wrote in its press release the body that manages the interests of men’s tennis, quite magnanimous in view of this bloodshed.
The player then had “ask for forgiveness” in a post on his Instagram account, claiming to have “he apologized privately to the chair umpire”after his fit of rage “unacceptable”. A few days ago, at Roland-Garros, the world number three spoke for the first time about the difficulties he faces off the court. ” Some players talk about it often and more openly. I do not like to do that. But I struggled a lot this year. I went through a lot of difficulties, I wasn’t very happy, I think I was pretty close to depression at times.” express.
Even in a press conference, an exercise that he hated for a long time, the German showed a wisdom that we did not know him until then.