In pure sporting phrases, 2020 represented progress for Alexander Zverev on the courtroom. He began the 12 months with a run to the semi-finals of the Australian Open, then misplaced within the ultimate of the US Open after main by two units to like, earlier than ending with two titles in Cologne and making the ultimate of the Paris Masters.
But he heads into the brand new season with extra questions than most. And a few very severe ones at that.
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Hovering over every little thing there’s the domestic violence allegations made by his former girlfriend Olga Sharypova in November. Zverev has strongly denied them, saying they’re “unfounded and unfaithful”, and Sharypova says she is just not planning to file a authorized criticism. Zverev can also be set to develop into a father early in 2021, with one other ex-girlfriend, Brenda Patea, revealing that she was pregnant in October.
Zverev additionally has the problem of looking for a new coach after his partnership with David Ferrer ended.
The pair began working collectively in the course of the 12 months and gave the impression to be producing some promising outcomes. Nonetheless, Ferrer introduced this week that he has determined to finish the connection.
“I needed to resolve by the tip of the 12 months; I spoke to Alexander and advised him that I most popular to not proceed working with him in 2021,” stated former world No 3 Ferrer. “There wasn’t a specific purpose or something; I simply thought the time wasn’t proper. The whole lot is ok between us, and I am grateful to Alexander for the chance he gave me to journey with him within the closing phases of the season.
“I am not the best particular person to assist Alexander in the mean time.”
Whereas the connection seems to have ended amicably, Ferrer is the third former participant to depart Zverev’s teaching workforce after Juan Carlos Ferrero and Ivan Lendl. In contrast to Ferrer, neither Ferrero or Lendl left on constructive phrases.
Lendl, who helped Andy Murray make his Grand Slam breakthrough, stated in 2019 that Zverev “has some off-court points that make it troublesome to working a means that’s in step with my philosophy”.
Ferrero advised Zverev was too distracted with issues away from the courtroom. “Zverev was three hours on the courtroom, however he couldn’t carry out high quality coaching for an hour and a half.
“There have been protests. Stops. Anger. Distractions. On the time, we collided because of his lack of punctuality and lack of respect for the workforce members, although his father helped me lots.”
Zverev’s public picture has offered difficulties. He has been curt in press conferences, appeared to disregard social-distancing guidelines throughout the Adria Tour final summer season, and was then pictured partying when he should have been self-isolating.
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His actions led to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung labelling him the “new dangerous boy of tennis”.
The questions round him come at an inopportune time for Zverev as a few of his essential rivals seem like taking the following step. He might have reached the ultimate of a significant in 2020 – and got here very near profitable it – however it nonetheless seems he has fallen behind Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev, having beforehand been seen because the one who might break the dominance of the ‘Large Three’.
One constructive for Zverev is that he nonetheless has time on his aspect. He’s solely 23 whereas Thiem is 27 and Medvedev will quickly be turning 25. This was some extent he made after dropping to Thiem within the US Open ultimate.
I am 23-years-old. I do not assume it is my final likelihood. I do consider that I might be a Grand Slam champion sooner or later.
Boris Becker additionally believes Zverev’s time will come. “He’s 23 years younger. The long run belongs to him,” stated Becker about his fellow German after the US Open.
What does Zverev must do to grab his likelihood?
On the face of it not a lot, contemplating final 12 months was his greatest when it comes to Grand Slam performances. There aren’t many weaknesses in his recreation; his serve can be among the best on tour and he is ready to dominate together with his groundstrokes.
However there nonetheless appears to be a consistency missing. Amongst his constructive shows final 12 months there have been additionally some much less spectacular ones, reminiscent of on the season-opening ATP Cup, when he misplaced all his matches and after which Becker stated they “exchanged some severe phrases off the courtroom”. His straight-sets defeat to Tommy Paul in Acapulco was additionally disappointing whereas he had a number of probabilities to beat Andy Murray earlier than dropping on the Western & Southern Open.
Ferrero referred to as it “irregularity” meaning he can “play the fifth set heads or tails”.
Any enhancements might depend upon if Zverev finds a brand new coach and who that’s, however there seems to be to be lots for the German to sort out in 2021.
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