Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Zverev moves into fourth round


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London, July 6: Another match ticked off, a place in the fourth round secured and still not a service game dropped: Alexander Zverev could be very happy with his day’s work.
The world No.4 overcame Cameron Norrie and a nasty tumble (in more or less that order) to win 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(15) and install himself as a serious contender for the title this summer. From dealing with the pro-Norrie crowd to recovering from that fall, Zverev handled it with aplomb. And he was playing near-perfect tennis.
That said, all anyone wanted to know about was his knee. How was it after that fall and would he be all right for his next round?
“On grass, I do feel like a cow on ice sometimes,” he said.
“I did feel restricted in some of the movements but I will check it out. But I’m pleased that I was able to continue playing the way I did. If I would have dropped my level, I would have had no chance against Cam.”
During the first phase, the tall German adopted a counterpuncher’s stance. Time and again at the Grand Slams, he would toil through five-setters while those watching scratched their heads and wondered why.
With that huge serve, that height, that reach and that power, he ought to have been able to wipe the floor with so many players. Yet he didn’t. He won but he took the scenic route around the opposition. True, he went through a period of the yips on his serve but he came through it. Even so, he still bided his time and plodded through the draw.
Then he suffered a terrible ankle injury in the semi-finals at Roland-Garros in 2022.
He was trading blow for blow with Rafael Nadal at the time and as he ran to his right, he twisted his ankle and tore three ligaments. After surgery and half a year away, he came back and set to work rebuilding his game and his ranking.
Since he has come back, he has been a different player. He has a different mindset these days: he keeps his cool (as he told everyone in Paris a few weeks ago, “I almost never get any warnings these days”), he has decided to like grass courts (as he told everyone just the other day after his opening round win) and he is playing to his own strengths rather than his opponent’s weaknesses. Suddenly, he is looking like a serious threat at all four Grand Slams – and here he is playing better than he has ever played on grass before.
Then again, Norrie is trying to change, too. His greatest weapon is his physical stamina. There is no one shot in his arsenal that gives his rivals sleepless nights but they all know they will have to run a marathon if they are to get past him. (AP)


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