In-Form Zverev Ready For Monte-Carlo
Alexander Zverev has posted some of his best results on clay courts. He reached his first tour-level final on the red clay of Nice two years ago, and just last year claimed two titles – including his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown in Rome – on the surface.
But don’t dare call him a clay-court specialist.
Coming into the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters at the magnificent Monte-Carlo Country Club, Zverev has had little time to adjust to the change in courts. Having gotten his 2018 season back on track by reaching the final on the hard courts of the Miami Open presented by Itau, the German had to make a quick transition to clay for the Davis Cup tie against Spain. While other players have had more time to make adjustments to their game, Zverev insists changing surfaces is not a concern for him.
“I don’t care, to be honest. It’s more about how I play,” he said. “I’ve played two Masters 1000 finals on hard courts – I’ve won one of them. Last year, after grass courts, I won back-to-back tournaments in Washington and Montreal, so for me it’s more about how I feel on court, how I feel the ball.
“Of course the game changes a lot on clay courts and I still quite enjoy playing on it,” added the 20-year-old. “I wish the clay-court season would maybe be a little bit longer like it used to be, but our sport is evolving more towards the faster surfaces. For me it’s more about finding my form than playing on a particular surface.”
Indeed, the 6’6” Zverev hasn’t had trouble adapting his relentless baseline game to all kinds of courts. His potent serve offers him free points on grass or quicker indoor courts, while his exceptional lateral movement sees him outlast opponents on the slower ones. His aggressive game built on a strong defensive foundation is a credit to a coach that Zverev considers the best on the ATP World Tour – one he has known his entire life.
“I have the best coach there is on Tour and I’ve said that many times. He’s created two Top 30 players from nothing,” said the current World No. 4, in reference to himself and brother Mischa Zverev.
“One of them has won two Masters 1000 events by the age of 20. The other one has a completely different game style as a lefty, as a serve-and-volleyer, has made it to the Top 30 after being injured for a lot of time. So, I’m very happy with my coaching situation. He gives me more variety in my game than any coach could give.”
That coach, of course, is his father (and namesake), Alexander Zverev Sr.
On Sunday, coach Zverev Sr. was backing eldest son Mischa, who earned a first-round victory in Monte-Carlo over #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. Later this week, he’ll be in Alexander’s corner as he takes on either Florian Mayer or Gilles Muller in his opening match.
It will be the 20-year-old’s first ATP World Tour match on clay this season, and first on clay at the Masters 1000 level since his triumph in Rome last year. Has anything changed?
“Before Rome I played four tournaments; at the beginning of that week I felt very tired,” admitted Zverev. “Now I actually feel okay, physically. Of course, this is still going to be the first tournament on clay… so there are still some adjustments to do but hopefully I can come into the tournament well and play some good matches.”