News : Tennis at Wimbledon – Less Than Zero – Sports

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Tennis at Wimbledon - Less Than Zero - Sports

Alexander Zverev fails already in the first round at qualifier Jiri Vesely. After that, he makes nebulous hints about something that weighs heavily on him.

By Barbara Klimke, London

It was a quick finish: a handshake on the net, a grab for the bag. Then he politely waited for his opponent, Jiri Vesely, with whom he left the court together. Shortly thereafter, Alexander Zverev, 22, sat in the interview room at Wimbledon to explain his surprising defeat. He had only taken the time to change his shirt. The opponent, who had used his chance as a qualifier, paid tribute to Zverev. But he also acknowledged that the abrupt departure was a consequence of his own inability on this Monday night: "I had plenty of opportunities to win this match," he said meaningfully.

Instead, it is now apparent that for the winner of the ATP final last season, the number 5 in the world, the tournament is almost finished. 6: 4, 3: 6, 2: 6, 5: 7 Zverev was defeated by Vesely, who is 103 places behind him in the ranking. Although the 25-year-old Czech is a talented lawn player, who had reached the first knockout round of 2018, where he had to bow to the Spaniard Rafael Nadal. Vesely also knew that he had not much to lose this time against Zverev and went to work with appropriate aggressiveness. But Alexander Zverev was far superior to him, at least in the first set. Then, in one fell swoop, he seemed to lose his concentration and belief in his abilities.

None of the seven German pros moved into the second round on Monday

The match began according to plan: In the first set Zverev could rely on his serve - he hit nine aces and moved frequently to the net. Almost always, when the first service landed in the field, he turned the point. He managed the break for 6: 4, also in the second set he was up to 3: 3 dominant. Then the game toppled: a devious ball; a double error; An accidental attempt to save a volley by Beckerhecht. He lost this and the following five points. Zervev hunched his shoulders. His footsteps between the rallies became sluggish. He did not have much to oppose to the increasingly lost and precise playing Vesely in the three lost sets.

He played too bad the whole year, Zverev explained, then the form would not be enough at Wimbledon either. "That was a typical grand slam match for me, I started well, then two or three things go wrong, and somehow everything falls apart." His self-confidence, according to the ruthless analysis, is currently "less than zero".

Then followed the sentences that gave the defeat a whole new dimension. "The last two days have been very tough for me, what's going on is weird," he said, "I'm very angry about it." He should not say "anything official," he added nebulously. Just so much: "It hurts me, I thought we were friends." He did not give a name, the comment was probably to be understood as an allusion to his lawsuit with his former manager Patricio Apey. Apparently Zverev burdened this rift very much.

It remains to be noted that not even the presence of his coach Ivan Lendl was able to turn the match around. Accustomed to Stoic, with a white towel on his knees, Lendl was watching in the stands as Zverev lost track on Court Number One. In the 17th attempt at a Grand Slam tournament by far the most talented German tennis player missed again the breakthrough.

It was a defeat that fit into the picture on this day so unpleasant for the German players: Seven players and players from the ranks of the DTB were on the pitch - no one advanced to the second round. In addition to Alexander Zverev Philipp Kohlschreiber had to give up: However, he faced the defending champion and world ranking first Novak Djokovic. "I gave everything," he said, as the result, 3: 6, 5: 7, 3: 6, was sealed on Wimbledon's Center Court. Also lost to Mona Barthel, Anna-Lena Friedsam, Peter Gojowczyk, Cedrik-Marcel Stebe and Mischa Zverev.

Perhaps it was a small consolation for Alexander Zverev that other favorites on this Monday reached their limits: the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, a climber of the past six months and new favorite of tennis fans, could not prevent a five-set defeat against the Italian Thomas Fabbiano. Naomi Osaka, the winner of the US Open and the Australian Open, lost to Julija Putinzewa. And for Venus Williams, 39, the end of her ambitions came when 15-year-old Cori Gauff appeared on the other side of the net. Gauff won smoothly in straight sets 6: 4, 6: 4; she was born in 2004 - at a time when Venus Williams had already won six Grand Slams.

They will all enjoy a little rest now. This is also Alexander Zverev's plan. "Somewhere where nobody can find me," he said before finally saying goodbye.

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