Alexander Zverev’s Australian Open Success Overshadowed by Domestic Violence Allegations

Alexander Zverev is in form at the Australian Open. But allegations of domestic violence catch up with him. The trial begins in May.

Variable hitting technique: Alexander Zverev at the Australian Open Photo: Issei Kato/reuters

Alexander Zverev was on the court for more than four and a half hours during his second round match in Melbourne. As was the case at the start of the Australian Open in the game against Dominik Koepfer, it was also tough against the Slovakian qualifier Lukas Klein. Zverev could have just as easily been eliminated. In the end it was 7:5, 3:6, 4:6, 7:6 (7:5), 7:6 (10:7) from the German’s point of view.

Lucky again. That’s how Zverev saw it afterwards. Klein probably deserved the victory more, said the 26-year-old Olympic champion On-Court-Interview. These are the feel-good conversations very shortly after the end of the match that the victorious professionals (have to) have on the pitch. Questioners are usually former world-class players like John McEnroe or Jim Courier. Critical questions are almost never asked here. The audience should be entertained and the winning player should be properly celebrated by the fans.

Zverev has a perfect command of small talk. His On-CourtHowever, interviews are rarely entertaining or funny. He’s pretty unlocked. This is always particularly noticeable when he speaks English. It’s that monotonous sportsman’s English: somehow perfect, but without edges, without corners or irony. As mentioned, as a tennis professional you have nothing to worry about there.

Things can get tricky a little later – when the players have the obligatory press conferences. Thursday afternoon in the large media room 1 at Melbourne Park was not a pleasant one for Zverev. A journalist asked the only question in the English part of the press conference. She wanted to know whether Zverev planned to appear in person at the upcoming court hearing.

“That’s a question”

Zverev had to ask briefly, he had probably already understood the question, but he was perplexed and took a deep breath. “Wow,” he replied, “that’s a question. I just stood on the court for four hours and 40 minutes. To be honest, that’s not the first question I wanted to hear.” But the woman didn’t back down. “But it’s just my question,” she said.

Zverev has been accused of physically abusing a woman for some time. In October 2023, the district court issued a penalty order against him. Accordingly, he should pay a fine of 450,000 euros for bodily harm. As it became known at the beginning of the week, there will be a trial in Berlin at the end of May because Zverev has lodged an objection. It is the presumption of innocence.

In Melbourne at the Australian Open, this matter caught up with Zverev. What’s more, he can’t get rid of her anymore. The topic is omnipresent. Especially since several players in Melbourne were recently questioned by journalists about Zverev and the allegations.

The why is obvious. At the beginning of the year, Zverev was elected to the ATP Player Council, representing the players in the ATP tennis organization. Many people are currently asking themselves: How is this compatible? On the one hand, the penalty order for domestic violence, and on the other hand, this responsible position as a mouthpiece for his fellow players on the tour.

Evasive statements

Zverev was already asked about this after his first match in Melbourne. “Why not?” he replied when asked whether it was appropriate for him to remain part of the council. “Nobody said anything to me.”

Zverev was right. All the professionals who were confronted with the matter in Melbourne formulated rather brief and soft statements. Some excerpts: Casper Ruud: “I haven’t had enough time to think about it yet. Somehow I don’t have an opinion on it either.” Cameron Norrie: “To be honest, I don’t know enough about it and so unfortunately I can’t say anything about it.” Stefanos Tsitsipas: “I won’t say anything about it. I don’t know the situation.” Only Iga Swiatek, number 1 in the women’s world rankings, made it clear: “I think it’s up to the ATP to decide. It’s certainly not good to promote a player against whom there are such allegations.”

Perhaps tellingly, the only useful answer on this sensitive topic came from a woman. When asked by the journalist about his appearance at the Berlin negotiations on Thursday in Melbourne, Zverev actually made reference and replied: “I have no idea. It’s in May.”

An unpleasant situation has now arisen for Germany’s best tennis player at the Australian Open. He is actually in excellent shape, his physical condition has never been as good as it is now after his long injury break. Even if the first two matches were difficult, Zverev could really go far this time in the first Grand Slam tournament of the year. If only it weren’t for these increasingly loud background noises.

Fans divided into two camps

In Melbourne, of course, there are whispers about the allegations against him, sometimes quietly, sometimes louder. His colleagues can bury their heads in the sand no matter how deep they want. Everyone knows. The fans on social media are divided into two camps: For many he is the “abuser”. They cannot understand why the ATP continues to promote him as one of their driving forces and simply lets him continue to play. The others admire him because he has and maintains a bit of a pop star image (also because of his looks). The long hair, the many chains. The extroverted celebration on the pitch after victories. That’s what’s coming.

Zverev is viewed extremely critically, especially by the international media. This goes so far that certain press representatives completely ignore the German in their reporting and at press conferences in Melbourne. At the Australian Open this sometimes leads to bizarre scenes. Usually the press conferences of the top ten players are always packed.

Zverev, the current number 6 in the ranking, is often only sat by German media representatives. Zverev smiles away. But it’s already affecting him. This was also noticeable after the match against Lukas Klein, when there was really only this one described question to him in English.

On Saturday, Zverev will face American Alex Michelsen in the third round. The match was scheduled as a night session in the Rod Laver Arena. It’s the spot that all professionals want at the Australian Open. In this arena and at this time the attention is greatest. Not everyone can understand that Zverev is given this.

One user wrote on that’s playing now. How can you promote this person like that?” The user’s post was shared hundreds of times. It almost seems as if Zverev can only lose right now. Even if he continues to win matches in the middle of the Australian summer.

2024-01-19 14:56:00
#Accusations #tennis #professional #Zverev #Melbourne #prelude


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