Alexander Zverev opens up on aiming to reach RG level he had before horror injury

In 2022, Zverev was playing the tennis of his season when a brutal injury ended his French Open semifinal versus Rafael Nadal.

by Dzevad Mesic
Alexander Zverev opens up on aiming to reach RG level he had before horror injury
© Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Alexander Zverev says he is happy with the level he has been showing at the Rome Masters as the German tennis star highlights his goal is to arrive at the French Open in his peak form and hopefully contend for the title there. 

At the start of the clay season, Zverev wasn't really impressive as he picked up round-of-16 exits at the Masters events in Monte Carlo and Madrid while he won only one match at an ATP 250 tournament in Munich before losing in the quarterfinal.

But in his final tournament leading up to the French Open, Zverev has been looking much better as the world No. 5 has made the Rome semifinal without a dropped set at Foro Italico. After beating Aleksandar Vukic and Luca Darderi in two sets, Zverev also earned a 6-2 7-5 win over world No. 53 Nuno Borges on Tuesday and also defeated Taylor Fritz 6-4 6-3 the following day.

"I’m definitely finding my rhythm, that’s for sure. I’m happy to be in the quarterfinals as well, but I’m basically taking this clay court season and also took the last tournaments of this clay court season to definitely find my game a little bit. I want to play differently," Zverev said.

"I want to play the way that I think I can give myself the best chance to win Paris. That is my main goal at the end of the day. That’s what I’m hoping to do, and I know I have to change a few things. I have to play more aggressively, and it’s coming together. Hopefully, it’s going to get even better in Paris. Everything just has to be more aggressive."

Alexander Zverev
Alexander Zverev © Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Zverev: Two years ago I put myself in the position I wanted to be, but then...

Two years ago, Zverev did extremely well leading up to the French Open as he finished as runner-up to Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid final and he was also a semifinalist in Monte Carlo and Rome. With that form, Zverev put himself in contention to be considered one of the favorites for the title.

When the French Open started, Zverev did experience some struggles early on but he overcame them and then also defeated Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinal. In the semifinal, the ultimate French Open test was waiting for Zverev as the German had to make it past Nadal to reach the final.

Against Nadal, Zverev was playing great but Nadal managed to win the first with a 10-8 scoreline in a tie-break - the opener lasted an hour and 33 minutes. The second set was no different as the match remained a grueling battle and Zverev led 6-5 while Nadal had 40/30 on his serve in the 12th game. Then, the match ended in the most unfortunate way possible as Zverev turned his ankle and instantly started screaming in enormous pain. 

The match was already at over three of play when Zverev went down with a ligament injury and had to be taken out of the court in a wheelchair. 

While it was a traumatic experience, Zverev says at least he now has a picture of where he wants to be level-wise at the French Open.

"When I did give myself the best chance to win in 2022, I feel like before the injury happened, that’s when I was at my best. And that’s when I was kind of dominating from the back of the court as well. I have to do that. Just by pushing the ball around, just by kind of waiting for the opponent’s mistakes," Zverev said.

Alexander Zverev
Alexander Zverev © Getty Images Sport - Dan Istitene

Zverev hopes to avoid shock losses at the French Open

Throughout his career, Zverev has managed to make several very deep Grand Slam runs. But Zverev is also no stranger to losing matches that he should have won. 

And heading into this year's French Open, that's one thing Zverev wants to avoid at all costs.

"For me, in my mind, I’m a player that, unfortunately, I know I can lose to anyone. I’ve done that in the past. But I also do know that once I find my rhythm and once I find my strength, I can beat anyone, especially on this surface. So I have to focus on myself, focus on my game, and find my rhythm. Then I think that’s going to give me the best chance of winning," Zverev noted.

Alexander Zverev
Alexander Zverev © Getty Images Sport - Mike Hewitt

In each of the last three years, Zverev made the French Open semifinal. Even last year - 12 months after suffering the biggest injury of his career - Zverev reached the last-four at Roland Garros before losing to Casper Ruud. 

The French Open conditions evidently suit Zverev's game well and it will be interesting to see if this is the year the 27-year-old German goes a step further in Paris and achieves his dream of becoming a Grand Slam champion.

Alexander Zverev French Open Rafael Nadal