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Zverev promises to “shut the phone down” to avoid more Grand Slam woe

The German admits he struggled to cope when people started saying he could be world No 1 by winning the Australian Open

Alexander Zverev Montpellier 2022 Alexander Zverev, Montpellier 2022

World No 3 Alexander Zverev said Saturday that all the talk of him becoming world No 1 had affected his focus at the Australian Open, where he suffered an earlier than expected defeat.

With Novak Djokovic missing, Zverev was talked up as a likely champion, which would have put him closer than ever to becoming world No 1, only to go out in the fourth round, well-beaten by Canada’s Denis Shapovalov.

Speaking at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier on Saturday, the German said he had not handled the expectation well.

“There was too much pressure in Australia, too much talking on the potential of being No 1,” he said, after beating Mikael Ymer 6-1, 6-3 to reach the final. “It was in my head and I didn’t handle it well. It’s how it is. That’s why I’m here in Montpellier, I want to play, be on the court, do better.”

Zverev: “It’s a learning process”

Zverev said the fact that he had been alone in Melbourne had also not helped. 

“It’s a learning process,” he said. “I was in the situation for the first time. Next time, maybe I won’t be on my phone that much. This time my parents were not with me, my girlfriend was not with me, so I was with my phone a lot. Next time, if they’re with me I can maybe shut it down, to be free from the outside world.

“That’s what I did very well in the Olympics after the semi-final, as I was the favourite to win the final. I’ll try to do that in a way. I need to learn from it. I’m not a young player anymore. I won at every level. A Grand Slam is the only goal missing. But you have a lot players there who gave the same goal. It won’t be easy. I’m working every day for that goal.”

Back on track in Montpellier, ready for Bublik final

Zverev has been back on track this week in Montpellier, reaching his 29th career final without losing a set and looking much more at home, with his girlfriend vocal in the stands.

The German took some time to visit the ATP desk in Montpellier to examine the tournament stats, which would have made good reading, especially if he spotted that he has won 14 of his 25 return games this week.

In Sunday’s final, he will meet Alexander Bublik, the Russian who beat him in their only previous meeting, in Rotterdam last year, but who is still chasing his first career title. Bublik, he will have noted, has hit 70 aces this week, something for him to focus on as he puts his phone away again.

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