Alexander Zverev ‘has not developed his game’ claims former Wimbledon champion
Former Wimbledon champion Michael Stich says Alexander Zverev has failed to develop his game and ‘take the next step’ in his career.
Big things have been expected of Zverev pretty much since the moment he stepped foot on the ATP Tour as a teenager. He has delivered to an extent too, winning 21 career titles, getting to the US Open final and reaching number two in the world rankings in 2022.
However, the 26-year-old has not been able to develop into a regular serious contender for majors, and the deficiencies in his game have been laid bare by being overtaken by younger players such as Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner.
That, according to Stich, is something Zverev has to own if he ever wants to become a truly elite player.
Speaking on a Sky Sports Germany podcast, Stich said: “In most cases the judgments of many observers are well-intentioned; they actually wish that he would take this next step so that he could become an even better tennis player.
“I think he always sees this as criticism of himself and his game – which it really isn’t. In the last three or four years – from my perspective – he hasn’t managed to really develop his game further. Whether he can and wants to do that, only he knows.”
Zverev finished the year ranked number seven and competing at the ATP Finals in Turin, a tournament that he was won before.
That has to be considered a fine result given he came into the season on the back of a serious foot injury that he sustained at Roland Garros last year.
In that regard, Stich is happy to give Zverev plenty of credit.
“It was a strong comeback year,” he said. “That was not to be expected, that has to be said very clearly. He was there at the finals.
“If in the summer someone had said: ‘Come on, boy, you’re in the Top 8 in Turin,’ he would have looked at them a bit strange at first. But he did it.”
Alexander Zverev ‘strong comeback year’
When Alexander Zverev went over on his ankle in the semi-final of Roland Garros against Rafael Nadal, the scream was audible. When replays showed what had happened, there wasn’t a viewer who could get through it without wincing.
He left the court on in a wheelchair and returned on crutches shortly after to concede the match. Scans the next day revealed significant ligament damage in his foot.
If anyone saw his injury at the French Open against Nadal in 2022, it is a wonder Zverev is playing, today. pic.twitter.com/j4S40H24Rj
— Alex Paxton (@alex_paxton01) September 5, 2023
At that point a slow return to court was guaranteed and it being a smooth one looked very unlikely. This season, though, Zverev has done exceptionally well.
He won two titles – an ATP 500 in Hamburg and an ATP 250 in Chengdu. He also had a decent year in the majors too, reaching the semi-final of Roland Garros and the last eight at the US Open.
Where Zverev did struggle was against higher ranked players. He won just seven matches of 24 against players in the top ten. However, overall you would have to agree with Stich that Zverev’s comeback year was about as strong as could have been hoped for.
What the injury did do was apparently change Zverev’s perspective on his career.
“After an injury like that, you really appreciate the hard days, the fun days,” he said. “You enjoy being on the court. Most players realize this once they stop playing tennis because they have not experienced this major injury.
“I didn’t want this injury to happen, obviously, but it made me grow, it made me realize what tennis really means. If I get back to this level, if I win Grand Slams and become world number one, maybe I will look back and say that it was all worth it.”
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