The slip looked worrying, and Alexander Zverev initially moved a bit erratically as a result. But as it quickly became clear: nothing serious had happened to the German tennis professional. After the 26-year-old – after the mishap at the beginning of the third set – his opening match at the ATP After winning the finals in Turin against the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz 6:7 (3), 6:3, 6:4, he also gave the all-clear in the press conference. “I didn’t twist my ankle. I slipped somehow. I was in pain for a while. But I don’t think there was any damage,” said Zverev about his fall, which this time strained his left foot assured: “There is nothing comparable to Paris.”
At the beginning of June 2022, Zverev sprained his ankle so badly in the semifinals of the French Open against Spaniard Rafael Nadal that seven ligaments in his right foot were torn. “Many people know my history. My injury happened in Roland Garros,” he said, as quoted by the dpa news agency, in Turin on Monday evening: “Not at some 250cc tournament somewhere, but on one of the biggest stages in the world. Maybe that was it a bit of the reason for the reaction. But I quickly gave the signal that everything was okay and I didn’t have to go home in an ambulance again.”
But Zverev could not only be relieved because of the mild outcome of his mistake. He had played well against Alcaraz, second in the world rankings, was agile, twirled passed balls into the field with millimeter precision and, in particular, had shone with a quality that had already won him the title twice – in 2018 and 2021 – in this year-end tournament of the best eight professionals. If Zverev serves like he did against Alcaraz, he will be difficult to defeat.
Especially when conditions prevail like in the Pala Alpitour, the multi-purpose hall in Turin. The hard court is fast, no wind disturbs the ball throw, which is extremely high for the 1.98 meter tall Zverev. His serves then hit the other side like thundering arrows. Thanks to his size and the high impact point of the ball, Zverev can push the ball down at a stronger angle like few others.
“If I’m not mistaken, we played with 20 or 21 different balls all year long,” criticizes Alcaraz
The statistics for his victory are breathtaking. He hit 16 aces with only two double faults. He won 79 percent of the points with the first serve (59 out of 75). It was less serious, especially in sets two and three, that his rate for the second service (eleven out of 22) remained rather average. He also needed it much less often. “My serve helped me a lot,” said Zverev happily. In the second set he literally ran over Alcaraz with this shot and scored 19 of 21 points with his first serve. Remarkable especially when you remember the times when this club was in crisis and many double errors reflected this.
In any case, the confidence in his opening game is undiminished. At the end of the first set, Zverev also hit the ground running with his second serve – the speed measurement showed 217 km/h. Alcaraz, who hasn’t quite been able to show his Houdini tennis since his Wimbledon victory in July and was looking for his form, later critically addressed a topic that has angered many professionals this season: “I think, if I’m not mistaken, we have this “Played with 20 or 21 different balls all year round. It’s crazy. A lot of players get injured because of that.”
This Wednesday (9 p.m./Sky) Zverev will face the chess-like Russian Daniil Medvedev, who defeated his compatriot Andrei Rublew 6:4, 6:2 in his first game in the so-called red group. So far, the Serb Novak Djokovic is considered the big favorite for the title, but Zverev believes he can go far in Turin. After the success against Alcaraz, he didn’t want to be surprised and said smugly: “I’m not that bad either.”
The post first appeared on www.sueddeutsche.de