Alexander Zverev: I was putting bricks on myself

After reaching the Roland Garros semifinal, the German admits to putting a lot of pressure on himself during the Grand Slams in the past.

Alexander Zverev in a file photo; Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

Alexander Zverev initially used to struggle in Grand Slams, never making it past the quarterfinals in his first 11 attempts. Now the German has become a serious contender in the majors after advancing to the Roland Garros semifinals on Tuesday. The sixth seed said that he has learned to deal with the situation better than his early-career days. “The Grand Slams are the tournaments that we want to win the most. Before maybe the past few years, I was putting too much pressure on myself,” Zverev said.

“Before [Daniil] Medvedev and [Stefanos] Tsitsipas arrived, I was seen as this guy who was going to all of a sudden take over the tennis world. I was putting pressure on myself as well. I was not very patient with myself, which I feel like now maybe I learned how to deal with the situation a little bit better. I’m maybe a little bit calmer at the tournaments. But the end goal hasn’t changed.”

‘I was very impatient’

Zverev had already lifted three ATP Masters 1000 trophies before reaching his first major quarterfinal. “For a long period of time I was winning [ATP Masters 1000s], the [Nitto ATP] Finals, but I couldn’t get quite deep in Grand Slams. I was putting bricks on myself,” Zverev said. “In a way I was not performing to the level that I was in other tournaments. I was not playing the same level. I was very impatient with myself.”

“Very rarely does anybody come in and all of a sudden perform his best at Grand Slams. Yes, we’ve seen Rafa do it, but Rafa is sometimes not human [with] what he’s achieved. I think for young guys it is a learning curve. Hopefully I can say that slowly but surely I’m starting to get the hang of it.”

The German admitted that playing Rafael Nadal in the final is very difficult, but his primary focus is about getting there first. “It’s nice that I didn’t play Rafa or Novak in the quarterfinals,” Zverev said. “[But] I think playing Rafa here in the finals, for example, is even worse. It’s even more difficult. But I also [need] to get there first.”

After overcoming a two-set deficit in the first round against Oscar Otte, Zverev now has a chance to reach his second Grand Slam final. “I’m in the semi-finals of a Grand Slam and I’ve played solid so far. I know that the matches [from] the semifinals on are not going to get easier,” Zverev said. “I think the opponents there are extremely difficult to beat, so I’ve got to play the same or raise my level even higher to have a chance.”

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