The path of Alexander Zverev through the first rounds at the US Open is like a serpent line. You could also give Germany's best tennis player the nickname "Zigzag Zverev". Instead of coming as straight as possible and thus energy-saving towards the first tournament weekend, the 22-year-old lurched into the round of the best 32 at the last Grand Slam tournament of the year.
Because his opponents, Radu Albot from Moldova and the US-American Frances Tiafoe, were not the hoped-for simple opponents against whom Zverev can gain confidence after a disappointing year so far. On the contrary, both of them developed into stumbling blocks, which Zverev eventually had to negotiate, but in each case had to play five movements - mostly due to himself.
His achievements in New York have been consistently volatile. And so after two matches behind the name of the world ranking sixth already has a total playing time of 6:19 hours.
"Stay calm and find a way to win"
He is rather the one who tries to see the positive, said Zverev after the victory against Tiafoe. "I have again won a thriller - and that counts." Of course, he would prefer to be down as fast as possible. But when it comes to a fifth movement, you just have to "stay calm and then find a way to win." And Zverev succeeded.
Although he had often been passively behind the baseline in sets two and four, he had agreed to long rallies without pressure. In the decision-making, however, he managed to break right at the beginning. And then his victory, as well as against Albot for the tournament start, was no longer in danger. One should therefore, in spite of all the criticism, also highlight Zverev's quality to be able to win at one of the most important tournaments of the year against unpleasant opponents shaky matches for themselves.
On the website of the ATP tour, the German was called "marathon man". The game against Tiafoe was already the 19th match of his career, when he had to go the full distance. And it was his 13th victory at the same time. When you come to the tennis court, you have to be "mentally and physically" ready, Zverev says. And that is exactly the case with him.
Difficult tournament path - in the quarterfinals Nadal could wait
His previous results of the year, however, hardly confirm these words. After a successful 2018 with the highlights Masters victory in Madrid and triumph at the ATP finals in London, Zverev 2019 still waiting for an outstanding result.
The US Open is his 19th tournament of the year. His only victory came in May at a non-occupied event in Geneva. In Indian Wells, Miami, Marrakech, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, Munich, Rome, Stuttgart, Wimbledon and Cincinnati, however, Zverev had lost his first or second match and was thus eliminated early.
Before the tournament in Munich, the 1.98-meter-tall Zverev had announced in late April to want to create his "great Grand Slam breakthrough" at the US Open. Now this does not have to be the tournament victory. But the claim is still enormous. For his best results so far in the four major tournaments of the year are the quarter-finals appearances in Paris in 2018 and 2019. If he could make it into the top eight in New York, he will most likely meet Rafael Nadal. Against the Spaniard Zverev has lost all five matches so far.
But he does not think that far yet. His next opponent is Aljaz Bedene. The Slovene is ranked 80th in the world rankings. Zverev's record against him is 3: 0. It would be good for his further tournament course if he left the previous zigzag course and played efficiently, effectively and energy-saving.
Short-time work instead of several hours of thriller.