“I’m still young, so I got time.”
Those are key words from Alexander Zverev on Saturday, following his five-set defeat to Next Gen ATP Finals champion Chung Hyeon in the Australian Open third round.
The No. 4 seed became the highest ranked casualty in the men’s draw and he bowed out by consuming a fifth-set bagel from an on-fire Chung.
In 11 Grand Slam main draw appearances, the 20-year-old Zverev has made it past the third round just once, reaching the last 16 at Wimbledon last year. While the young German has enjoyed massive breakthroughs at ATP tournaments, winning two Masters 1000 events last year, by defeating Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the finals, he has been unable to replicate that form and success at the majors and he is understandably stumped as to why that has been the case.
“I have some figuring out to do, what happens to me in deciding moments in Grand Slams,” a usually defiant Zverev conceded on Saturday. “It happened at Wimbledon. It happened in New York. It happened here.
“I’m still young, so I got time,” he added with a smile. “I definitely have some figuring out to do for myself.”
It’s often easy to forget how young Zverev is because he carries himself in a way that exudes confidence and seems unfazed by taking on the top guys. But a closer look tells a different story.
Zverev, understandably as a 20-year-old, still needs to mature in different areas. He is temperamental on the court but unlike some, who feed off that anger, it rarely pays off for Zverev.
He says things like: “I think I should have won in four sets.” Perhaps a better way to look at it is why he lost the plot in the fifth?
I often feel there is a lot of “should” in Zverev’s way of thinking. He thinks journalists “should” know every single word he’s ever said in press, he believes he should have done this or that… With maturity, he’ll gain a more open perspective.
The pressure he feels on his shoulders is, naturally, heightened at the Slams and the key is to figure out a way to deal with it better and learn how to navigate the best-of-five format in a more efficient manner, and work it to his advantage. He is very fit physically and he admitted his problem on Saturday was “definitely not physical”.
You get the sense Zverev finds it hard to switch to a different gear when things aren’t going his way in the Slams, even though he has the talent that allows him to dig deep into his reserves if he wants to.
He will no doubt learn from these tough Slam losses, and like he noted, he has plenty of time to figure things out. For now, it’s back to the drawing board for Team Zverev — he’s got a stellar pair in his corner with his father Alexander Sr. and ex-world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero both coaching him — who have to prepare him to defend lots of points this season.
This loss was by no means a catastrophe, and Zverev is too gifted to not perform well at the majors, but it will be interesting to follow his journey to that Slam success he seems destined to achieve.
— doublefault28 (@doublefault28) January 20, 2018
HERO OF THE DAY
Simona Halep, on a dodgy ankle, overcame Lauren Davis in a three-hour 44-minute battle, 15-13 in the third, to make the fourth round. She saved three match points and served for the match four times. A win like this can do wonders to her confidence. Here’s hoping the ankle holds up so we get a great fourth round between her and Japanese youngster Naomi Osaka.
UPSET OF THE DAY
Chung‘s win over Zverev was his first against a top-10 opponent in his career, which earned him a maiden fourth round appearance at a major.
There is plenty to like about the 58th-ranked 21-year-old Chung. But his next opponent Novak Djokovic says it best: “I’m looking forward to the next challenge, you know. Hyeon Chung, who has beat Zverev today, a big win for him, someone that is very disciplined, one of the NextGens. He won in Milano last year. He’s playing great. He’s fit. He doesn’t have too many holes in his game. He’s very nice guy. You can see he’s a hard worker. It pays off.”
“It was a really tough game against Alex Zverev… I’m just trying to play 100% and that was the key today.”
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 20, 2018
MATCH OF THE DAY
Hsieh Su-Wei’s clash with Agnieszka Radwanska was everything you’d expect it to be from two women who boast incredible shot creativity.
It was art. It was chess. It was Tai Chi!
Do yourself a favour and find a highlights reel for that masterpiece. Hsieh won 6-2, 7-5.
QUOTES OF THE DAY
“We should not forget that this is a sport. It’s not business. But it became business more than sport, unfortunately, because of an industry that we are part of and which gives us a great life in terms of financial compensations and what we get for the performances. Absolutely I’m grateful for that, but at the same time there has to be a balance between everything. I’m afraid that we are losing that balance a little bit today.”
— Novak Djokovic.
“It’s kind of silly, right? It feels kind of silly.”
— Tennys Sandgren on the fact that he has made the Australian Open fourth round.
“Some sleep, some chocolate, and actually hot chocolate I will have after.”
— Halep doesn’t want to think about tennis following her three-set epic. This is what she wants to think about.
“I am always happy if I’m not the drama.”
— Madison Keys happy to stay under the radar so far in Melbourne.
“I made a commitment to myself before this tournament that I’m going to be my own best friend and just my greatest supporter, and accept all that God has to give me.”
— Awesome perspective from Davis.
STATS OF THE DAY
3 – Chung is just the third Korean player to reach the fourth round at a Grand Slam.
10 – times Tomas Berdych has made the fourth round at the Australian Open, the most by a Czech man, overtaking Ivan Lendl.
48 – games played in the match between Halep and Davis, which is equal most for a women’s match in Melbourne in the Open Era.
90 – match wins for Roger Federer at the Australian Open following his straight-sets triumph over Richard Gasquet in the third round on Saturday.
DRAMA OF THE DAY
Radwanska had to involve the supervisor today during her match with Hsieh. A Hsieh ball was called out, Radwanska hit back the ball anyway. Umpire Tom Sweeney overruled and said it was in. Then somehow decided to give the point to Hsieh and not replay it. That meant Radwanska would fall behind 0-40 on her own serve.
Radwanska, who seldom gets angry on the court, was fuming as she argued with Sweeney that the point should be replayed because she hit the ball, and it wasn’t a clear winner from Hsieh. She immediately got the supervisor involved and Radwanska actually won the argument, with the supervisor overruling the umpire’s decision. She still got broken in that game to go down 0-2 in the second set but lesson learned: You don’t mess with the ninja!
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