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Beaten Zverev: “If I play like that, I don’t deserve to be No 1”

The German was brutally honest in his assessment of his performance after his straight-sets loss to Denis Shapovalov in the fourth round of the Australian Open

Alexander Zverev R4 AO 2022 AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Australian Open 2022 | Draw Order of play 

Tennis can be a brutal sport, as Germany’s Alexander Zverev found out at the Australian Open on Sunday.

The Olympic champion arrived in Melbourne with high hopes of winning his first Grand Slam title, with expectations increasing after Novak Djokovic was sent home from Australia.

Victory in the first Grand Slam event of the year would also have pushed him right up into contention to become world No 1 for the first time at some stage in the coming months, but his hopes came crashing down as he was swept away in the fourth round by Canada’s Denis Shapovalov, who claimed a convincing 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 victory.

Zverev hit just three aces, to eight double faults, but it was the way he was pushed around by Shapovalov that left him feeling pretty down about his chances of becoming No 1 any time soon.

“I mean, look, I obviously, I give credit to Denis,” Zverev told reporters. “It’s incredible he’s in the quarters. I think he deserves it. He’s done a lot of work. He’s improved his game. But I’ve got to look at myself, as well. Today was just, yeah, today was just, in my opinion, awful from my side.”

Shapovalov-Zverev R4 AO 2022
AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Zverev served for the second set at 5-3 but couldn’t close it out and once Shapovalov had taken it on the tiebreak, the result never looked in doubt, leaving Zverev pretty down on his hopes of hitting No 1 any time soon.

I was playing bad the whole week

Sascha Zverev

“I was playing bad the whole week, to be honest,” Zverev said. “I didn’t think I was playing that great. Except against John Millman, maybe I had a good match, but the other two matches weren’t great either. It’s very different also playing during the day and during the night here. I think that didn’t help me in a way, as well. There is no excuses.

“At the end of the day, I’ve got to do better. I came here with a goal to win, and maybe to become No. 1 and all that. But if I play like that, I don’t deserve it. It’s as simple as that. I think after a match like this, it’s very silly to talk about it. I think I need to figure myself out first.”

Boris Becker: “He has to think about what happened”

It was the ninth straight time in the last 16 of a slam for Zverev but the best men’s German player in history, Boris Becker, said Zverev’s performance was “very disappointing”.

“Sascha never found his game, he didn’t develop dynamism or aggression,” Becker told Eurosport. “Right from the start you had the feeling that Shapovalov was always a step ahead. The Canadian was livelier. I haven’t seen Zverev that passive for a very long time. You can lose and play badly, but you still have to make an effort and leave your soul on the pitch. We missed that today.

“Sascha’s dream of being No 1 in the world after Australian Open now is over. He has to think about what happened there. He was brimming with confidence before but something has happened from Australia these past few weeks.”

“His big strength is serve, but today it was just three aces with eight double faults. He waited too long on the baseline for that and only played the ball back – hoping that the opponent would make a mistake. But Shapovalov is too good for that. He never really put pressure on Shapovalov and pushed. The round of 16 is not enough for a top player like Zverev.”

Zverev: “It’s no one else’s fault”

To his credit, though, Zverev resisted the temptation to blame any external reasons for his loss. The result, he said, was down to him.

“I had a good off-season,” he said. “I had good preparation. It’s sometimes not only that. Look, there are no excuses. I need to be better, I need to do better. It’s as simple as that. It’s no one else’s fault. It’s not the coach’s fault, it’s not my team’s fault, it’s no one else’s fault. It’s purely me. At the end of the day, as the world No. 3, I have to take responsibilities for the things I do and don’t do. Today was, yeah, was just not good enough to beat someone like Denis.”

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