August 1, 2021

Djokovic’s biggest competitor? Why not Alexander Zverev …

With the cancellation of Rafael Nadal for the Wimbledon tournament, the competition for defending champions is easing Novak Djokovic. Currently just seems Alexander Zverev to be able to keep up with the Serb. Despite the defeat in Halle on Thursday.

by Jens Huiber

last edit: Jun 17, 2021, 7:11 pm

© Getty Images

Sascha Zverev was able to annoy Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open

“Novak Djokovic. And then nothing for a long time. ”So coach Jan de Witt, who has recently been on the ATP tour with players like Nikoloz Basilashvili, Gael Monfils or Gilles Simon, spoke about the favorite location for the Wimbledon tournament in a conversation with on the fringes of the 500 event in HalleWestfalen. Before Roger Federer made a rather weak impression against Félix Auger-Aliassime. And even before Rafael Nadal announced that he would be giving himself the trip to London this year.

So can you already list the sixth title on Curch Road for industry leader Djokovic? The 20th victory in a Grand Slam tournament then? It looks like a lot, if not everything. Because even in the still short grass season, no really serious competitor has recommended for the hunt for the Wimbledon title. Except maybe Alexander Zverev. A lot seems possible this year. Despite the defeat against a great Ugo Humbert on Thursday in HalleWestfalen.

Tsitsipas without preparation, Medvedev without fun on the lawn

But otherwise? Stefanos Tsitsipas decided not to start in Halle for personal reasons. A few years ago, the Greek said that turf would be his best surface. This opinion is unlikely to be shared by anyone outside of the toughest fan base in Greece. In addition: Tsitsipas has to process the final defeat in Roland Garros first. Daniil Medvedev doesn’t have to, the Russian will play on Mallorca from Monday, but is already looking forward to the start of the hard court season in a few weeks. Medvedev’s match against Jan-Lennard Struff in Halle wasn’t bad, the German had to unpack a magic ball to avoid losing the first set. After that, however, Medvedev had no more assignment.

Matteo Berrettini, anybody? The Italian demanded Djokovic in Paris, even over four sentences. And yes – the Berrettini from Stuttgart 2019 is not a pleasant opponent for anyone on grass. For a chance against Novak Djokovic everything would have to come together, as the German Davis Cup boss Michael Kohlmann noted in Halle. And Dominic Thiem only got warm on the lawn in a single week, in Stuttgart 2016 it was. It was a while ago.

Zverev has already defeated Djokovic in finals

So that leaves Alexander Zverev. On a bad day in Paris, the German number one almost turned a 2-0 deficit against Tsitsipas. And Zverev’s best strokes exactly meet the requirements profile of a potential Wimbledon winner: serve and return. Well, a solid volley does no harm. In this regard, however, Zverev has improved.

And: In final appearances against Alexander Zverev, Novak Djokovic has already shown weaknesses: For example in Rome 2017 or at the ATP Finals 2018. Of course, only via the best-of-three format. But Zverev seems to have motivated his final defeat at the US Open last fall. Sascha is ready. Also for Novak Djokovic? Zverev himself doesn’t quite see it that way. Turf is certainly not his strongest surface, he said after his defeat against Humbert in Halle. And Alexander Zverev holds it with Jan de Witt: Behind Djokovic there is no small, but a very large gap.