Just a year after the injury shock, Alexander Zverev has another great chance at the French Open today (from 5.30 p.m., live in the ticker on the sports show). Alexander Zverev started his preparation for the big semifinals in a good mood. With a big grin on his face and a “Good morning” as a welcome, the Olympic tennis champion went to the training ground.
Watched by his father, he hit a few serves the day before the game in the midday heat in Paris. “I’m extremely happy to be here, but the tournament isn’t over yet”he said before the duel with the Norwegian Casper Ruud on Friday in view of the big dream of the first Grand Slam title.
Zverev – still annoyed the night before
Zverev himself was a little annoyed the night before. From the interview on the pitch to Chinese television, the Olympic champion had to tell his way back to the semi-finals after the shock of injury – and he wanted to focus on the chance of the longed-for premiere triumph at one of the four major tournaments.
“We can talk about the injury as much as we want. At the end of the day, I’m here to win tennis matches. I’m in the semifinals of Roland Garros, there aren’t very, very many players who have managed that.”emphasized the 26-year-old. “You don’t get into the semi-finals at Roland Garros if there’s still something missing.”
In the semifinals against Ruud
371 days after twisting his ankle in the same place in the semifinals against Rafael Nadal, Zverev is back in the top four on Friday – and wants to play Casper Ruud in his first final in the classic clay court in Paris. As the first German since Michael Stich in 1996. “I’m happy to be back but hopefully I’ve got two more matches here and they won’t get any easier”said Zverev.
At the latest in a final against the outstanding world number one Carlos Alcaraz (20) from Spain or the Serbian 22-time Grand Slam tournament winner Novak Djokovic (36), Zverev would be a blatant outsider.
Zverev will only go onto the pitch on Friday after the two top favorites. The German’s game will start at 5:30 p.m. at the earliest – but it could also be much later if Alcaraz and Djokovic fight a long duel.
During his interview marathon after the four-set win against Argentinian Tomás Martin Etcheverry, Zverev looked appreciatively briefly at the television on the wall of the basement at Court Philippe-Chatrier. He saw how Ruud had a surprisingly clear hold on the Danish youngster Holger Rune. “He’s a very, very good tennis player, a very solid tennis player”said Zverev about his next opponent. “Casper has been in this situation before, he was in the final here last year, he knows exactly what to do.”
When the 24-year-old Norwegian lost to the clay court dominator Nadal in the final a year ago, Zverev was about to have an operation on his broken ankle. “It’s great to see Sascha back in the semifinals”said Ruud. From Zverev’s “rendezvous”, wrote the French sports daily “The Team” given Zverev’s third semi-final in a row on the front page.
For Zverev it is his sixth semi-final in a Grand Slam tournament. Both US Open In 2020 he reached the final and lost to the Austrian Dominic Thiem. There has been a defeat four times so far: At the Australia Open 2020 against Thiem, the US Open 2021 against Djokovic, the French Open 2021 against Stefanos Tsitsipas – and 2022 when giving up against Nadal. “He’s back to where he was a year ago, so it will be difficult for any opponent against him”said Eurosport expert Boris Becker.
Zverev: “I expect a very difficult match”
Since his return, however, Zverev has been waiting for a win against a player from the top ten in the world rankings – he has lost six since his comeback. That’s not the only reason why a success over Ruud, who is fourth in the world rankings, would be the final confirmation of the return to the old extra class. “Zverev is coming back strong from his injury, but currently I see Casper in the final”but Ruud’s inferior opponent in the quarter-finals, Holger Rune, prophesied.
However, the Norwegian is an incomplete one – much more than Zverev, who is not yet Grand-SlamTournament won, but Olympic gold, five Masters titles and two wins at the ATP Finals has to show. Both French Open and the US Open the Norwegian made it to the final, but is waiting for the big triumph. The clay court specialist has won all ten titles of his ATP career so far in tournaments in the fourth highest category. “I expect a very difficult match”said Zverev.
Later in the evening he looked back into his own past. “Every journey has its challenge”, was read in English on his Instagram account. In addition, a picture with a raised thumb in the hospital bed and a cheering photo. “A year later I’m back.”