Drama by Alexander Zverev on and off the court

When Alexander Zverev left the French Open last year, he was in a wheelchair. He was in tears.

After tearing ligaments in his right ankle while running after the ball, Zverev was forced to retire. in the semi-finals future champion Rafael Nadal. Zverev looked to win his first major title after winning twice. ATP final and capture gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics. He was also runner-up at the 2020 US Open.

Zverev faced many hardships, many of which he caused himself. A public feud with a former agent over money was settled out of court. Allegations of domestic violence by an ex-girlfriend plagued him for about two years, prompting an ATP investigation that eventually found lack of substantial evidence of claims. And after throwing a tantrum on the court last year after losing in doubles, Zverev was fined $40,000 and given a 12-month suspended sentence for “unsportsmanlike conduct.”

And yet Zverev remains one of the most diligent guest performers.

The following interview has been edited and condensed.

You are known for your physical strength on the court. But the game is also mental. What is more difficult for you?

I always feel that when I do a job, I am also mentally prepared. After I’ve done my best to be ready to win, I have nothing to worry about. If you don’t play well, you don’t play well. Sometimes in any sport, something gets out of your control, especially in tennis, because it is a special sport.

You have been super competitive since you were a child. How much did it help you on the ATP Tour?

I hated losing. It helped me because when someone younger or better came up, I tried to outplay them. When I work harder than everyone else, I will be the best. Which is not always correct. I have learned this with age.

Everyone talks about your father’s influence on your playing, but didn’t your mother teach you technique?

She had a bigger influence on me than my dad because she was the one who taught me the game from a young age. More people are talking about my dad because now he is my real coach, along with Sergi Brugera. But my mother was much more influential than my father.

Of all the men you’ve beaten – Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev – who is the toughest?

Everyone has their own difficulties. When Rafa plays well on clay, he is invincible. I have played with Novak on many surfaces, but when he is in the zone, he is also very difficult. Everything happens so fast with Roger. It seems to you that you have just started the match, and have already lost a set and a break, and you have absolutely no idea how this happened. Medvedev will definitely not miss. No matter what position you put him on the court, he will always return the ball, so you have to win matches on your own. And Carlos Alcaraz, with him, obviously, strength. Honestly, you can not name one of the most difficult.

With everything you’ve been through in the past few years, from personal issues to trauma, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned about yourself?

When you are young, you are naive. You think all your best friends are here because they really like you. But tennis is a business that, unfortunately, is not always the most pleasant in the world. I have a very close circle. I don’t let people inside anymore. I only have people I truly trust 100 percent. I had to learn to dive in, get the noise out of my head, to be able to compete.

What gives you the most pleasure in this game?

This is what you really are. You win yourself, you lose yourself. You cannot hide behind your teammates. Many players say that they play for money and do not really like tennis. I am someone who absolutely loves what I do. I can’t imagine doing anything else. There is no better life for me.