Üoverwhelmed, Alexander Zverev sank to his knees after his gold coup and hid his face in his hands. The 24-year-old from Hamburg won the final of the Olympic Games 6: 3, 6: 1 and immortalized himself as the first German Olympic champion in men’s singles in German tennis history. “I’ve never had such a feeling in my life,” said Zverev at Eurosport. “This medal belongs to all of Germany, it was the best week of my life.”
“We bring home gold. What a match! Madness, “said Zverev’s older brother Mischa at Eurosport. The German soccer champions from Munich congratulated with a picture of Zverev in the Bayern jersey. 33 years after the triumph of the sports icon Steffi Graf, the German Tennis Association won an individual gold again. Zverev grabbed the chance that was within reach after the semi-final success against the Serbian top star Novak Djokovic.
“Having a gold medal around your neck is something I couldn’t imagine in life. I didn’t play a single second for myself, “said Zverev and went into raptures:” I played for everyone here in the village. For everyone, my family, my parents, my daughter, everyone who shared the excitement at home. That’s why I played the way I played. For me it is an unbelievable feeling right now. “
With a determined and impressive performance, Zverev achieved the small miracle of Tokyo in the final against the Russian Karen Khachanov. Unlike after the sensational success over the world number one, Zverev did not cry. He was beaming. In the stands, DOSB President Alfons Hörmann applauded.
Zverev brave and powerful
At 5:17 p.m. local time, a piece of German tennis history began with the first rally. The Center Court was now in the shade on the once again extremely hot Tokyo day, Zverev got off to a start as hoped. When Khachanov hit the mark for the second time, the German number one managed to break the ball. He transformed it with a smash ball and presented it early.
The fifth in the world rankings continued to play courageously and powerfully. And did not let the shouts of Olympic protests, which echoed from outside in the arena at the beginning, disturb the calm. The serve, as an occasional weakness, had always deprived him of possible victories in the past few years. But even on this most important day of his stay in Japan, the serve helped him as in the previous matches – but the tricky situations were rare with his own service.
At 5: 3, Zverev decided at the right moment for the challenge. The video evidence showed that Khachanov’s ball had hit the line. A devious volley by the opponent Zverev secured the first set to the delight of the German delegation, including DOSB President Alfons Hörmann.
“You have silver for sure, now bring home gold for Germany!”, The German tennis legend Boris Becker had given the finalist in a Eurosport greeting message. Becker wished Zverev something that he had not been able to do himself: he had won Olympic gold in doubles alongside Michael Stich in 1992.
Zverev continued emotionally. When he backhanded down the line to get 1-0 in the second set from the distress, the 1.98-meter-tall right-hander screamed the tension out. When the quick break followed, Zverev showed his fist – also as if he wanted to confirm that he no longer wanted to miss this chance. “I think he’s enjoying it now. If you don’t enjoy tennis now, you never enjoy it, ”said Mischa Zverev at Eurosport.
Unlike in his insane win against Djokovic, Zverev was the favorite this time. The 25-year-old Khachanov occupies 25th place in the world ranking list, which is 20 ranks lower than Zverev. Even to 4-0, Zverev, who played better and more liberated, took the serve from his opponent. After 1:19 hours he transformed his first match ball.
In the US Open final last year, Zverev, despite having a clear lead at the beginning and only two points away from the Grand Slam dream, could not withstand the pressure against Austrian Dominic Thiem. In this match with only two winning sets, he gave his opponent no more chance this time.
It has been 21 years since Tommy Haas was the last German to bring silver home in the men’s singles. Angelique Kerber traveled back from Rio de Janeiro five years ago, decorated with the silver medal. For Brazil, Zverev had canceled for health reasons. Now he enjoyed the Olympic atmosphere – and crowned himself with gold!