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Ahead of the Miami Open presented by Itau, Alexander Zverev welcomes a new addition to his family: a puppy from the Greater Humane Society of Miami.

Zverev Faces New Dog Dilemma In Miami

Returning finalist looks for another strong run at ATP Masters 1000 tournament

Alexander Zverev has a small dilemma. Not on the court, when he returns to action this week at the Miami Open presented by Itau, but with the newest addition to his family: a puppy that followed him home Tuesday upon a promotional visit to the Humane Society of Greater Miami.

Legally, in the United States, you’re not allowed to take a dog (out of the country) until it’s six months old and it’s two months old right now… I can’t stay in the U.S. for the next four months!” Zverev shared during his pre-tournament press conference.

The World No. 3 already has a poodle named Lovik and hadn’t gone to the Humane Society with intentions of getting another dog, but shared that there was no question of adopting Pop once the terrier mix determined that Zverev was the chosen one.

“You know the saying, the owner doesn’t choose the dog, the dog chooses the owner?” said Zverev. “This one just came up to me, it looked at me. I petted him a little bit... It just followed me for 20-25 minutes. Every time I would stop, it would sit down and look at me. I walked somewhere else, it’d come after me, sit down and look at me again. I would walk in circles, it would walk after me every single time. At some point I sat down on the floor, it crawled up to my arms and never left me.”

With another deep run this week in Miami, he can extend his time with his new puppy, should Pop need to go live temporarily with a family friend in the United States until receiving the necessary clearance to travel to Europe.

Last year at this ATP Masters 1000 tennis tournament, Zverev came up short in the championship match against American John Isner, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4. He finished the season with four titles from six finals, highlighted by the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals trophy, and an ATP Tour-best 58 match wins.

“My consistency last year was unbelievable,” said Zverev. “If you look at it, I made three Masters finals, I won one. I won the [ATP] Finals. I made the semi-finals of five Masters out of nine – I think that’s the most of any player. Big events, normally I’ve done well, except the Grand Slams, which is a different story. In the smaller tournaments, when I played them, I either won them or made the semi-final or final, at least.”

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Thus far in 2019, he has reached the Round of 16 at the Australian Open (l. to Raonic) and the final at the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC (l. to Kyrgios). He was unable to maintain his momentum from his Acapulco run after being sidelined with illness for nine days, and struggled in a second-round loss against Jan-Lennard Struff at the BNP Paribas Open. But Zverev is now fever-free and ready to compete.

“I went on court without warm-up, without any preparation, just to play in a match and see if I have energy,” he said. “For me, you can’t play a Masters 1000 like this….

“But I’m happy to be here, I’m healthy again. History-wise, this is a place where I’ve always done well.”

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Since making his Masters 1000 main draw debut here in 2015 as a qualifier, Zverev has compiled a 10-4 tournament record, including a victory over then-World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka two years ago en route to the quarter-finals. He reflected on the boost he received from the energetic crowds in Key Biscayne, and hoped that the special feeling would carry over to the Miami Open’s new home at the Hard Rock Stadium.

“I always play the best in countries and in places where I feel the energy…. I hope it’s going to take over from Crandon Park and take all the energy here and just to make it even bigger,” said Zverev, who will open his campaign against either Sam Querrey or David Ferrer. “Hopefully it’s going to be a similar vibe.”