Alexander Zverev insists defeat to Verdasco is 'nothing to be 'tragic about'

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No big deal: Insists Zverev.

Rising German star Alexander Zverev insisted his first-round defeat to Fernando Verdasco at the French Open was “nothing to be tragic about”.

The 20-year-old was tipped as a possible title contender at Roland Garros this year but crashed out prematurely to the veteran Spaniard in a tie held over from Monday.

Ninth seed Zverev slumped to a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 loss on Tuesday as he struggled to adjust to the windy conditions on his first appearance on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Zverev was blunt in his assessment of his performance, which came just over a week after demolishing Novak Djokovic to win the Rome Masters.

“I played absolute sh**… It’s quite simple,” said Zverev, who followed elder brother Mischa in exiting Paris in the opening round. “You sometimes play bad. It’s just this is our sport.”

Zverev broke into the top 10 for the first time after becoming the first player born in the 1990s to claim a Masters title.

The German is also the only player aside from Rafael Nadal to win multiple clay-court tournaments this season, but he has never advanced beyond the third round at a Grand Slam.

The world No10 beat Verdasco in straight sets in Madrid earlier this month, however the 33-year-old Spaniard held his nerve in Paris as Zverev committed 50 unforced errors.

“There are no regrets. I mean, what can you do? In Rome I played fantastic, I won the tournament. Here I played bad, I lost first round,” said Zverev. “That’s the way it goes. I’ll prepare the best I can for grass.

“But the world doesn’t stop now. I mean, I’m still number four in the race to London and I’m still doing okay this year. I won three tournaments so far. It’s not the end of the world, okay? I lost a match, but, I mean, pretty much everybody loses a match every single week they play. So it’s nothing to be tragic about.”

Vamos! Fernando Verdasco.

Vamos! Fernando Verdasco.

Zverev will return to Halle, where he finished runner-up a year ago, alongside Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem as part of his grass-court preparations ahead of Wimbledon.

But the German admitted taking a short break was the first thing on his mind after a busy month.

“I will definitely take a few days off. It’s been a rough few weeks for me, in a good way obviously, but physically very, very tiring.”

Verdasco is competing at his 14th Roland Garros and 56th consecutive Grand Slam and will meet Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert next.

“I’m very happy of the way that I played and being able to beat a player like Alexander that is one of the players in such a great form,” said Verdasco, who has reached the last 16 of the French Open five times.

“It was a great victory for me, but this has to be not only like a point just to stay and to enjoy. Of course, I have to enjoy, but not just to enjoy, also to keep going. To believe in myself and keep fighting and keep playing the same way that I did against him the next match. And try to make a good tournament here.”

*From AFP

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Roland Garros day 2 diary and highlights: Traffic jams and consolation hugs

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Gavrilova had a bad day in the office on Monday.

The first few days of a Grand Slam are always so chaotic for everyone involved.

For us journalists, watching a full match from start to finish is a real luxury with so many matches scheduled at the same time and press conferences being called every five minutes.

Scheduling your interviews really becomes a form of art.

You have to be clever about who you request for one-on-one interviews, or post-match chats, when to be at your desk to watch a clash on your monitor and when to go to the players’ lounge to look for a coach you need for a story.

The players’ lounge during the first few days is like the Shibuya Crossing. So much is going on all at once. Players are being called to be escorted to their matches, others are eating or waiting for their practice time or match, families, friends and entourage are hanging out… amidst all this, I witnessed the sweetest little moment between Daria Gavrilova and Daria Kasatkina. It was only a few minutes after Gavrilova had lost her opener 7-6(4), 1-6, 6-4 to Elise Mertens and the Aussie was understandably upset.

The lounge was so busy with many people either entering or leaving the restaurant – including one black-clad Bob Sinclar – when Kasatkina approached Gavrilova, gave her the warmest of hugs to console her, without uttering a single word. You gotta love the Dashas!

There wasn’t just traffic jam at the players’ lounge. The interview rooms can also sometimes get accidentally double-booked even though the ITF team here do a fantastic job in trying to avoid that from happening but sometimes one press conference lasts longer than expected and a bottle neck occurs.

Today, that happened with Feliciano Lopez. The Spaniard’s chat with his home press took so long, that Andrea Petkovic – who is a friend of Lopez’s – had to wait outside until they were done. She opened the door and said hello than waited outside peeping into the small window in the door.

When he walked out, he asked her so eagerly, “did you win?” Sadly she hadn’t – news that left him momentarily crushed.

Moving on to the action on court, here are some highlights from day two at Roland Garros…

Point of the day


Stats of the day

4 – hours and 27 minutes, David Ferrer’s 5-7, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 13-11 win over Donald Young on Monday – longest contest of the day.
9 – years since an Arab woman had won a singles main draw match at a Grand Slam. Ons Jabeur ended that drought on Monday by reaching the second round with a win over Ana Bogdan.

Andrea Petkovic.

Andrea Petkovic.

Quotes of the day

“I’ve learned that – I’ve been on tour for 10 years – sometimes it seems to be more difficult to be a character with principles than to be a champion. You have to take more things into consideration, it’s not just the wins that define a champion. If we think of Roger Federer, who brings so much more to the table, I think that’s also what it’s about, if you want to be a champion and be a role model for the little children out there.”

Andrea Petkovic when asked to comment about Margaret Court’s intention to boycott Qantas Airlines due to its stance on same-sex marriage

“I don’t like it. But anyway, I don’t think I’m playing so long anymore, so I don’t care what they are doing in the Next Generation Finals.”

Andreas Seppi when asked about the shot clock on other new features to be trialed at the ATP NextGen Finals in Milan

“I hate sometimes tennis (smiling). Is a big relation. Is a love that you have to love and then you hate sometimes. It’s like when you marry someone.”

– One of the many gems from Francesca Schiavone

Upset of the day

Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Nikoloz Basilashvili (GEO) bt. Gilles Simon (FRA) [31] 1-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-1

The Georgian world No63 claimed his first-ever win at Roland Garros in three appearances, and his first Grand Slam win since Wimbledon 2015, with a four-set triumph over 31st-seeded home favourite Simon. The win ended Basilashvili’s five-match losing streak at the Slams.

GIF of the day

Day 3 highlights

Simona Halep [3] v Jana Cepelova
Dustin Brown v Gael Monfils [15]
Thanasi Kokkinakis v Kei Nishikori [8]
Philipp Kohlschreiber v Nick Kyrgios [18]
Ashleigh Barty v Madison Keys [12]

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Muguruza wins battle of the former French Open champions

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Roaring on: Muguruza.

Garbine Muguruza hailed the incredible longevity of Francesca Schiavone after defeating the veteran Italian in a first round battle of French Open champions.

Spaniard Muguruza, who won her maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros last year, swept aside 2010 champion Schiavone 6-2, 6-4 on Monday.

“I cannot believe in the first round we have two ex-champions. Not only that but Francesca is a legend and I was very excited to play on Philippe Chatrier court with her,” said Muguruza.

“She has been on the tour for such a long time, and when I look back on some videos, I heard her name since I’m, like, I don’t know how old. She’s still playing. She’s fitter than most of the players. I’m, like, how is it possible? I think she loves it. She kind of enjoys out there.”

The fourth seed admitted Schiavone’s surprise 2010 final victory over Sam Stosur was a fond memory.

“I saw her match in the final here, and I kind of like it. I was happy that she won the French Open at that time,” said Muguruza.

However, the 23-year-old doesn’t believe she can emulate Schiavone, who turns 37 next month, in terms of a career spanning two decades.

“I don’t see myself playing at 36 with that shape. I think she has a spectacular body, also, to be able to do that. I don’t know if my body can handle with how many injuries I have, and I’m 23. So it’s going to be tough,” said the Venezuela-born Spaniard.

Schiavone reached the quarter-finals on her French Open debut in 2001, with this year’s appearance her 17th in a row in the main draw.

A year after winning her lone Grand Slam title, Schiavone returned to the final at Roland Garros only to lose to China’s Li Na.

The Italian outlined in January her plan to retire at the end of the season, but she conceded there was still a chance she could postpone her farewell.

“You never know. For the moment, I want to live this moment this year. I have to see how I feel physically,” said the Italian. “You know, it’s not easy to wake up and run again for six hours and push yourself. But we will see. I think after US Open I will ask myself what I want to do.”

Schiavone cited the enduring quality of Venus Williams, who became the oldest Australian Open finalist in the Open era at this year’s tournament, as inspiration to keep plugging away.

“It’s something that you do just step by step, years by years. Can you see Venus that she’s playing 20 years here? It’s amazing,” said Schiavone.

“It’s something I think very special that just if you love the sport you can do it. Just if you go through problems physically and you keep going to work and push your limits every time, I think it’s fantastic. I see Venus here, and I say, ‘Wow’, this is a big example for everybody.”

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