Zverev Looks To Build On New Mental Approach In Melbourne
German keen to focus on enjoying his tennis
When Alexander Zverev arrived at the Nitto ATP Finals in London last November, the German made a conscious effort to place greater emphasis on enjoying his tennis after struggling with his level in previous weeks.
That shift in mentality proved successful, with the 21-year-old defeating World No. 1 Novak Djokovic to become the youngest player to triumph at the season finale since the Serbian in 2008. Now, two months after his greatest triumph, Zverev returns to tour-level action with motivation to maintain that attitude as he continues his search for his first Grand Slam title.
"I came to London [last November] and I wasn't playing my best," said Zverev. "I lost to Khachanov 6-1, 6-2 [in Paris, and] I lost to other guys. I really wasn't playing well. I came to London saying, 'Look, it's the last tournament of the year... I want to enjoy it as much as I can. I'm playing the best players in the world. I'm going to see how it goes.'
"At the end of the week, I won the tournament. I learned out of that. I figured out I have to have the same mentality when I play at Grand Slams. I hope I can achieve that."
Despite big ambitions, the World No. 4 is keen to keep expectations low and trust his new approach ahead of his opening match against Aljaz Bedene on Tuesday. Zverev is yet to advance beyond the third round in three main draw appearances at Melbourne Park, falling in five sets to Rafael Nadal (2017) and Hyeon Chung (2018) in the Round of 32 on his past two visits.
"I don't put any [expectations] on myself, actually. I've never been past the third round, so we'll see how it goes," said Zverev. "I just want to enjoy being here. I just want to enjoy playing as much as I can. I just want to enjoy playing in the biggest stadiums, playing in the biggest matches.
"Once I learn how to really enjoy it and really find fun in what I do, I think everything else will take care of itself."
Zverev also took some time to address former World No. 1 Andy Murray's Friday announcement that he will retire during the 2019 season.
"Obviously he's one of the best guys on Tour outside the court," said Zverev. "He's always super nice to be around, super nice to be in the locker room with... He's actually one of the funniest and coolest dudes out there.
"The amount of support he got as well, you can see how much we really appreciate what he's done. So I hope he can really enjoy the last few months and just have a happy retirement."