Alexander Zverev: 'The Rest Need to Keep Up' - On Alcaraz and Djokovic

Zverev reflects on Alcaraz defeat at the US Open

by Zain ul Abedin
Alexander Zverev: 'The Rest Need to Keep Up' - On Alcaraz and Djokovic
© Elsa/Getty Images Sport

In the scintillating backdrop of the 2023 tennis season, a prominent narrative has unfurled with remarkable intensity - the burgeoning rivalry between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic. This saga has not only gripped the tennis fraternity but has also enthralled the worldwide audience.

Alexander Zverev, a stalwart of the sport, found himself at the epicenter of this tennis spectacle during the American hard-court swing. In the recent past, Zverev locked horns with both of these tennis titans. He narrowly succumbed to Djokovic in a pulsating encounter at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati last month, an event that showcased the Serbian's indomitable prowess.

However, his journey took an unforeseen turn when he faced Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-finals of the US Open. Alcaraz proved to be an insurmountable force, sweeping Zverev aside in straight sets, thereby curtailing the German's promising US Open campaign.

During his post-match press conference at the hallowed grounds of Flushing Meadows, Zverev offered a discerning analysis of the Alcaraz-Djokovic rivalry. He spoke eloquently of their astounding skills and the razor-thin margin that separates them in terms of excellence on the tennis court.

Zverev's Glute Injury Mars Clash

"I played Novak in Cincinnati, I played Carlos here. I think they are very, very similar from the level of the game," Zverev stated with candor. "There are some things that Novak does better; there are some things that Carlos does better.

I think they are at a level of their own at the moment. The other guys gotta catch up. That's as simple as that”. As Carlos Alcaraz delivered a breathtaking performance to extend his title defense at the US Open, Zverev's own challenge was hindered by a left glute issue that surfaced during the second set.

Reflecting on the match, Zverev acknowledged the missed opportunities in the first set but emphasized the debilitating effect of the injury on his performance. “I was in the match the first set. I could have broken, it could have gone my way, it didn't,” he ruefully recounted.

“Then the second set I felt something in my hamstring glute, left side. I couldn't push off on my serve anymore. My serve speed was down quite a lot compared to the other days. Against him especially I needed a good serving day otherwise it would have been difficult.

I think my biggest weapon was kind of taken away after the first set and it's difficult to even compete if you don't have that”. Zverev, ever the professional, clarified that his physical struggles were unrelated to his arduous four-hour, 41-minute fourth-round marathon against Jannik Sinner.

While he exits the US Open with a quarter-final loss, Zverev can take pride in an overall solid performance during a season marked by his remarkable resurgence following a severe ankle injury in 2022. Reflecting on the epic Sinner clash, Zverev acknowledged the physical toll it exacted on both players, stating, “I think we were both physically done after that match”.

However, he demonstrated resilience in his recovery efforts, alluding to the late-night finish and the grueling nature of their contest. Ultimately, Zverev's remarkable journey through the 2023 season continues to be a testament to his unwavering dedication to the sport he loves.

Alexander Zverev Us Open