Alexander Zverev suffered yet another Grand Slam first-week exit, this time at the hands of fellow German Philipp Kohlschreiber in the US Open third round on Saturday.
The world No. 4 lost 6-7(1), 6-4, 6-1, 6-3 to Kohlschreiber to become yet another high-seeded casualty on the new Louis Armstrong stadium that is shaping up to be a graveyard court for the top guns this tournament.
Zverev, who has reached just one Grand Slam quarter-final so far in his young career, continues to perform better at tour events than at the majors and he brought in Ivan Lendl prior to this event to help him step up on the big stage.
But with their partnership barely two weeks old, Zverev wasn’t expecting a miracle a this US Open and is eyeing progress under Lendl’s tutelage next season at the Slams.
“It’s a process. It’s a process of developing. I took him [Lendl] to do well at Slams. But this is a process. You can’t expect to kind of immediately see the results. I think the results will come hopefully next year,” said the 21-year-old.
“He’s very straightforward. He said that it’s a process of getting there. It’s a process of playing well at Slams. He told me before the tournament started that, ‘Hopefully you’ll do very well at the US Open, but we’re more looking towards next year’. We’re more looking towards being at latter stages, competing for Slams next year.
“I understand it. I still want to win, obviously. I wanted to win today, then playing [Kei] Nishikori next, who I just played in Washington. I feel like it would have been a pretty okay match-up for me, as well. I wanted to go far. But, you know, wishes don’t always come true.”
Zverev has won three Masters 1000 trophies over the past two seasons, and retained his Washington title earlier this summer. He is 35-10 win-loss at tour events in 2018 but just 10-4 at the majors.
He entered the contest with Kohlscreiber with a 2-2 head-to-head record against his compatriot but had won their last two meetings without dropping a set. Yet on Saturday, Zverev converted just 3/13 break points against the world No. 34 and committed 53 unforced errors. He also squandered 3-0 lead in the fourth set before succumbing.
“Look, I mean, sure, he knows me. Last few times we played, I won fairly easy. But today was different. I mean, as I said, he played a good match, played a smart match. He mixed it up well, didn’t give me a lot of opportunities,” said Zverev.
“On the other hand, I also did over 50 unforced errors, which the last few matches I didn’t do. It was a mixture of both.”
Referring to his early losses at the majors, the young German added: “I mean, at tour events I lose, as well. There’s just more tour events. You probably recognise it less. I lost to Robin Haase last week in Cincinnati. I lost to Tsitsipas in Toronto. Those are not that great losses for me either.
“There’s a lot of focus on the Grand Slams. I’ve obviously done well in Paris, but not at the other Grand Slams this year maybe for different reasons. I mean, Australia, I played against Chung, who played very well. Wimbledon I was still recovering from an injury. Here I played a good opponent. Just couldn’t find my best game today.”
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