Eric Riley: "Alexander Zverev may need a different strategic and tactical plan"

The former coach of Pam Shriver and Lisa Raymond expressed his point of view on Zverev's tennis, in the words he kindly granted for Tennis World USA

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Eric Riley: "Alexander Zverev may need a different strategic and tactical plan"
© Daniel Pockett / Stringer Getty Images Sport

"It's frustrating. But for me it's more frustrating that I don't feel 100% physically. It took away my chance to play. I was playing very, very well throughout the trip to Australia. I lost the match due to a physical condition, not because of tennis. For me it's a disappointment. It's probably the first time or one of the first times in my career that this has happened.

But the other thing is that I can be proud of myself because I did everything I could. I did all the work in the offseason, I did all the work here in Australia. I was focused, but things happened out of my control, in a way. I hope it's not my last chance.

Throughout the trip to Australia I played pretty well. I had been playing well for a few months now, so it's obviously very disappointing. At the end of the second set I started to lose energy. I started to not feel so fresh anymore. I was feeling a little sick. I got sick after the game against Alcaraz with a bit of fever and stuff, so that obviously didn't help the recovery, and I played a lot.

I lost a bit of energy at the end of the second set, and it's impossible to play against him when you're not at 100% physically, because he's literally someone who doesn't give you anything. He makes you work for every single point and when you can't do it anymore it becomes very difficult."

With these words, Alexander Zverev expressed his disappointment for the defeat at the Australian Open semi-finals against Daniil Medvedev. First the dream, then an epilogue that is difficult to stomach for him.

Zverev© Julian Finney / Staff Getty Images Sport

After the extraordinary victory in the quarterfinals against Carlos Alcaraz, the German flew ahead by two sets, in the semifinal against Daniil Medvedev, he came within two points of victory but in the end he was forced to surrender to the comeback of the Russian, who qualified for the final, prevailing 5-7, 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(5), 6-3. (A final in which Medvedev suffered the same fate as Zverev, being overtaken by Jannik Sinner after winning the first two sets - ed.)

A defeat that hurts the German, who for long stretches savored the second Slam final in his career after the one he lost to Dominic Thiem at the 2020 US Open.

Eric Riley, the former coach of Hall of Famer Pam Shriver and career doubles Grand Slam winner Lisa Raymond, expressed his feelings about the German's tennis, underlining the most important aspects and the areas where he could improve.

"Alexander Zverev should have been ranked number one in the world and should have at least a half dozen grand slams wins. He has the game, size and speed to do it. He is one of the best hardcourt and clay court players in the world. Sasha consistently hits his serve 135MPH, his first serve.

He has to be more of a first strike specialist with the ability to serve and volley when he is up on the score two points or more. Playing up in the court more and taking the ball earlier is what he needs to do better; from that offensive posture, helping him transitioning forward and finishing points at the net is needed. We know he is an impregnable fortress from the baseline.

This isn’t reinventing the wheel, it is a mental and tactical adjustment that he has to have the courage to make.  Mischa, Alexander’s brother, was a serve and volley player. Mischa did it well.

I wish I could get just one week with Alexander to introduce him to a slightly different strategic and tactical plan. He would see for himself what he needs to do to win Slams. I believe in Sasha Zverev because he had a great result and he is looking to do better," he told in the words he kindly granted for Tennis World USA.

Eric Riley's career

Riley, founder of TeamRiley Tennis Inc., has coached some of the best tennis players in the world, including Hall of Famer Pam Shriver and career doubles Grand Slam winner Lisa Raymond. In 1996, Eric coached Lisa to her first professional singles title in Canada, the Challenge Belle, in Quebec City.

In 1997, Eric coached Lisa to the Australian Open Doubles final, where her partner was Lindsay Davenport. In July 2008, Lisa Raymond partnered with Samantha Stosur and reached the Wimbledon doubles final, where they lost to Venus and Serena Williams.

Eric Riley and Angelica Blake
Eric Riley and Angelica Blake© Eric with Stanford University’s #1, Angelica Blake, the 2023 ITA Northwest Most Improved Senior.

In 2017, Eric worked with Marcus Willis ahead of his run at Wimbledon. Most recently, Eric's roster of players includes 2023 Stanford University's No. 1 ranked player Angelica Blake and many ranked juniors. As a professional player, Eric topped the world rankings for 8 consecutive years on the ATP Tour, from 1984 to 1991.

Prior to his professional tennis career, Eric played No. 1 on the University of Pennsylvania tennis team and was the first African-American tennis captain for an Ivy League men's team.

Alexander Zverev Pam Shriver Lisa Raymond