I.In Alexander Zverev’s game, there is an interesting paradox: the grimmer the 24-year-old looks, the happier he is with his performance. He pinches his eyebrows together, stares at the floor seemingly angry between rallies and bares his teeth in front of Returns like a predator. In the world of sport, such an appearance is often interpreted as “wild determination”.
During the less than two hours of his round of 16 encounter at the French Open, Zverev looked particularly grim on late Sunday evening. He swept over the completely hopeless Japanese Kei Nishikori 6: 4, 6: 1, 6: 1. Zverev was fully focused from the first to the last rally. Or just: wildly determined. It was impressive evidence of its class.
“Yes, I played unbelievably,” said Zverev immediately after the match point. False modesty has never been his thing. Even if a little later he slowed himself down a little and didn’t want to “spit too big a note”. Zverev knew what this achievement meant. He finally belongs to the circle of title contenders in Roland Garros. “I’m in the quarter-finals and the tournament isn’t over yet,” he said. “I hope I have three more matches.”
“He’s playing the tournament of his life”
It is Zverev’s declared goal to win Grand Slam titles. And he has come closer and closer to this goal in recent years. The next at the US Open last year, when he lost very tightly in the final against Dominic Thiem from Austria. In Paris he now wants to take the final step. “I still don’t feel any bottle of champagne on my head,” he said jokingly on Sunday evening. In other words: there is still no reason to cheer. There’s something else to come!
Zverev’s next task in Paris will be a duel with the Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. The same encounter took place in the last sixteen of the US Open last year. At that time, Zverev only allowed his opponent to win five games. But Davidovich Fokina has gotten better since then and has worked his way up to 46th place in the world rankings. In the course of the tournament he has surprised quite a few opponents.
“He’s playing the tournament of his life,” said Zverev. Which is why the German has already drawn up a match plan. “He can do anything, but he’s also very crazy,” he said. “I have to throw him off balance a bit.” Zverev’s gaze shows how well he does it. The grimmer the better.