Without fans in koln:zverev’s first home match in 14 months

Without fans in koln:zverev's first home match in 14 months

Alexander zverev actually wanted to meet with german national soccer players in poland this week.

“I have contact with some of them,” germany’s best tennis player said: “i would have liked to go to the national match on tuesday. And a few guys were happy to come to our tournament. Now they were not allowed as well as I.”He also had to accept an invitation from TV pundit bastian schweinsteiger to come to the ATP tournament in the cathedral city.

It is a curious situation. When zverev spoke at a press conference on tuesday about the tournament in koln, there were still a few hundred spectators at the matches in the hall. The hall will be empty when the US open finalist plays spain’s fernando verdasco in the round of 16 for the first time in his home country in 14 months.

“I was actually looking forward mega to playing here in front of spectators,” the world number seven said, hours after the decision was made to exclude spectators because of rising corona numbers. The 23-year-old was still hoping for an audience at the second tournament in colonia next week. Tournament director barbara rittner announced that she would closely monitor further developments and “make a decision in consultation with the authorities regarding a possible visit to the second tournament”.

Zverev, however, was looking forward to his first appearance in germany since his start in hamburg in the summer of 2019. And his expectations remain the same anyway: “it’s clear: when you’re seeded number one, you want to win the tournament.”

However, after the grand slam double pack of the last few weeks, zverev is fighting both the physical aftershocks of paris and the mental ones of new york. After the cold that weakened him in his eighth-final exit from the french open against 19-year-old italian jannik sinner, he had been “extremely exhausted the whole of last week. I haven’t practiced once properly.”But he was definitely not ill with corona. “Even in corona times you can just get a cold,” said the 23-year-old: “many people didn’t understand that.”

Perhaps even more painful is the fact that he missed out on his first grand slam title a month ago. Asked how often he still thinks about it, zverev confessed: “what do you think? So every day 20 to 25 times. At night too. And in my dreams too.”In the final match against the austrian dominic thiem on 13 september. September the hamburger had won the first two sets and after a dramatic course finally lost in the tiebreak of the fifth and decisive set. “I was two points away from winning a grand slam tournament,” zverev said.

French open champion rafael nadal predicted the hamburg native would “get even more chances in the future”. But that is only a small consolation for zverev. Just as it would have been a tournament victory in koln. But it was one – and a draw. Because since his victory at the ATP finals in 2018, zverev has won only one title. And that victory in geneva was also 17 months ago. Since then, he has been waiting for title number twelve. Of the eleven he has won so far, two have been in his home country, in munich in 2017 and 2018. At that time, however, with spectators.


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