Tournament director rainer schuttler had already left for the french open and his client angelique kerber, when alexander zverev rose to give a short speech of thanks after winning the first title of his so far difficult tennis season.
The glass trophy for the final winner of the "banque eric sturdza geneva open" was held gently in zverev’s hands and he looked in vain for the tournament boss and kerber coach on the tribune. Last friday at a quarter to six in the evening schuttler phoned him. "Six was the deadline for registration," zverev said with a smile. After weeks of self-doubt, harsh words of self-criticism and some sporting setbacks, the 22-year-old from hamburg decided at short notice for a wildcard and a tournament trip to geneva. The spontaneity has paid off.
6:3, 3:6, 7:6 (10:8) zverev won the final against nicolas jarry from chile. With the comforting feeling of a tournament winner, the world number five can now move on to the french open. There, on tuesday, he will face australian john millman, who defeated roger federer at the u.S. Open last year.
"That feels very good. Coming to paris with a success like this is very important for me," said zverev after winning the eleventh title of his career and the first since his triumph at the ATP finals last november. Of course, zverev’s opponents in switzerland did not beat federer, rafael nadal or novak djokovic. Whether his current level of performance is really sufficient to advance well into the second week at the second grand slam of the season on the difficult surface of sand remains to be seen.
But the way zverev earned his title premiere of 2019 could also help him in roland garros. The final against jarry began at 15.40 o’clock, it ended at 21.15 o’clock. Only after two 90-minute rain interruptions, two defended match balls and what felt like 37 debates with the umpire about ball impressions and line touches was zverev allowed to cheer. More relieved than euphoric, he looked briefly to the sky after his marathon shift and set his knee down on the red flooring.
In the quarterfinals against hugo dellien from bolivia (7:5, 3:6, 6:3) and in the semifinals against federico delbonis from argentina (7:5, 6:7 (6:8), 6:3), zverev was on the court for more than two hours in each case as well. "Hopefully he’s not too physically exhausted. But he’s got his confidence back," said boris becker as a TV pundit for eurosport on sunday in paris. "I had four tough matches and four nice wins. I hope that this will now have an effect on my self-confidence," said zverev.
This was recently cracked, to say the least. The turmoil following the separation from his manager patricio apey and the results crisis with an unusually high number of opening defeats have taken their toll on the 1.98 meter tall athlete. After the early exit in rome against the italian matteo berrettini, zverev criticized himself and his team with clear words and spoke of unprofessional behavior. Ex-professional tommy haas even diagnosed the world number five with a tendency to self-destruction in the "sport bild" newspaper.
The first repair work has now been completed. "When i start playing well, i don’t worry about titles. I know I can be one of the best players in the world if I find my rhythm. This week has definitely helped me," said alexander zverev. And sounded again like alexander zverev.