Alexander Zverev - Miami Open 2022

Alexander Zverev ‘not playing tennis properly’ claims former No.1

Alexander Zverev has been given a warning by six-time Grand Slam champion Boris Becker, who believes his compatriot could be ‘overtaken by the younger players’.

Zverev made his return to the ATP tour this year, after recovering from a serious ankle injury that forced him to retire against Rafael Nadal in his Roland Garros semi-final in 2022.

Since returning, the German has not managed to find the same form that saw him on the cusp of world No.1 before getting injured, and his compatriot has tried to get to the root of what’s causing this drop off in form.

“I think he’s 100% healthy and has confidence in his ankle – and that physically he could play through every match if he could play more,” claimed Becker.

“I think that’s the bigger problem. Tennis changes every 18 months. That means you always have to improve accordingly. You get the impression that he hasn’t improved and the opponents know exactly how they have to play against Sascha [Zverev] in 2023. That is a problem!”

He continued, “You want to win free points and create surprise moments. I watched the match against [Carlos] Alcaraz: it was two worlds. A year ago, he beat Alcaraz in Paris and was on his way to beating the unbeatable Nadal, and possibly [Casper] Ruud in the final. Sascha would have become the new No. 1.”

“That’s in the past, and 12 months later, the stark reality is brutal. That’s the sport. He is fit again but can’t manage to match the form he had a year ago. There are many reasons for that.”

After failing to defend his finalist points in Madrid, the 26-year-old fell outside the top 20 for the first time in six years and Becker claims Zverev isn’t ‘playing properly’.

“What is important, and he is always extremely self-critical, is that he realises this, that he is honest with himself and doesn’t blame bad luck, bad fortune, wind or too hot a sun – but the fact that he doesn’t play enough,” claimed Zverev.

“I am sure he will address this in his team and then also train better again. In my opinion, Zverev is not playing tennis properly at the moment.”

Becker also claimed that Zverev is looking over his shoulder at the younger players, rather than being the young threat on the tour that he once was.

“The focus now is no longer on the big three: Nadal, Djokovic and Federer. Sascha has to look in the rear-view mirror and he is, unfortunately, being a bit overtaken by the younger players. We have talked a lot about Alcaraz, but I also mention [Jannik] Sinner, [Holger] Rune and [Taylor] Fritz,” explained the three-time Wimbledon champion.

“Last but not least, there is Sebastian Korda, who was badly injured in Melbourne, but whom I have on my list. They will play for Grand Slams in the future. That’s the problem.”

Becker added, “You have a window in your career in which you have to win the first Grand Slams because the competition never sleeps. With Sascha, that didn’t happen for various reasons.”

Alexander Zverev record since returning to the ATP Tour

Zverev is a 19-time champion on the ATP tour, but has struggled to get close to adding a 20th title to his resume this year.

Here is the former No.2’s record since returning to the tour at the start of this season:

Alexander Zverev win-loss record since returning to the tour: 12-13 (49%)

Best result: Reaching the Semi-final of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships before losing to Andrey Rublev, 3-6 6(9)-7

The German will be hoping to change his win-loss record to positive when he plays at the Italian Open this week, where he is a former champion from 2017.

As a seed, Zverev received a bye to the second round where he will play David Goffin, who he has a losing record against.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.