German hopes at the Australian Open rest on Alexander Zverev. The Olympic champion has set himself the goal of the title – and keeps the memories of Tokyo alive in Melbourne too.
Always happy to wear an Olympic outfit: Alexander Zverev.
Andy Cheung/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
For his big goal, Alexander Zverev withdraws almost completely. Regardless of the outcome of the almost endless Corona posse about Serbian top star Novak Djokovic, Germany’s best tennis player wants to celebrate his Grand Slam title premiere one way or another at the Australian Open. And for that he must not be infected with the corona virus. Apart from training twice a day, he goes “nowhere” anymore, said the 24-year-old from Hamburg on Saturday in Melbourne given the high number of infections in Australia. “I’m not taking any risks. I want to play the tournament as well as possible,” he clarified.
On Monday, Zverev, as a great German hope, will begin his mission at the first of the four most important tennis tournaments of the season. The world number three finds itself in the top half of the tableau, whose games will be played on the first day of the two-week tennis spectacle on the Yarra River. In the German duel, Zverev then meets outsider and Australian Open debutant Daniel Altmaier from Kempen, who surprisingly reached the round of 16 at the French Open in 2020.
Two days before his first appearance, Zverev naturally had to talk about Djokovic’s ongoing topic at one of the usual press conferences of the players from the group of favorites. The German number one was no longer specifically asked about his expectations and goals for the Australian Open. The Melbourne semi-finalist from 2020 had been too clear about this in the past few weeks: The 24-year-old has set himself nothing less than the top spot in the world rankings and the first Grand Slam triumph for this season. Preferably in Melbourne.
Becker on Zverev: “Now the big titles have to come”
Instead of Zverev, Boris Becker talked about it in detail. “It’s absolutely about time because he’s just good enough. He’s in the form of his life now and now the big titles have to come!” Said the Zverev connoisseur in the Eurosport podcast “Das Gelbe vom Ball”: ” If that doesn’t happen this year, then the next generation will come and the pressure will increase a little, the questions will get louder.”
In an interview with the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (Saturday), the tennis icon explained what speaks for Zverev: He can now perform more consistently throughout a tournament. His self-confidence is greater than ever. “Let’s be honest, what we didn’t necessarily assume five years ago: his great talent was known, but he still had a few weaknesses. He has now eliminated them. I would heartily wish him to triumph in Melbourne,” said Becker: “Sascha Zverev does indeed have a great chance of winning his first Grand Slam title.” However, Djokovic remains number one in the world for the time being.
As in Tokyo, playing cards is a pastime in Melbourne
Zverev had particularly strengthened his belief in his own class with his Olympic gold in Tokyo, and the unusual team spirit also helped him to triumph in Japan. He also wore a t-shirt from the games collection in Melbourne on Saturday. “I just feel really comfortable in this outfit,” he said. “It brings back incredible memories. I just wanted to have that feeling before the tournament starts here.” As in Tokyo, playing cards is a pastime in Melbourne. German tennis colleagues would come to his room for this, said Zverev. He doesn’t want to do without that for the first Grand Slam title either.