Ferrer’s First Experience In Zverev’s Box: ‘The Player Is Always Right’
Spaniard is making his first tournament appearance alongside Zverev in Paris
“Now you guys will have to tell me how to get to Centre Court because every time I’ve come here it’s been to play, I don’t know how to get to the stands.”
David Ferrer’s quip came as he was about to sit in Alexander Zverev’s box for the first time. It was the first round at Roland Garros, where the German progressed by beating Dennis Novak, and it represented a monumental shift in his life; until Sunday, the Alicante native had always taken to Court Philippe-Chatrier with his racquet in hand.
“You get nervous, but I’ve always said that the player is always right and the one that makes the decisions," Ferrer told ATPTour.com. “That’s what I think now that I’m a coach and also before when I was a player. Handling the emotions you feel under the surface is difficult. I try to encourage and help him in critical moments, to transmit positivity to him, but he has the final word.”
Ferrer started working with Zverev in July this year after two weeks of training in Monte Carlo. Having followed the US swing remotely, while in permanent contact with Zverev on his phone, the Spaniard set off for Paris for his first experience as a coach at a tournament.
“It’s different. Now I have the numbers of the rest of the coaches, but when you’ve been on Tour you know how everything works,” said Ferrer. “You adapt to the player, to their schedule. Now I reserve courts for training, organise the transport, the racquets, I watch his opponents’ matches... what my coaches used to do back then, routine things.
“It excites me because I like it. There is a good atmosphere. I meet up again with peers I’ve known my whole life, both Spaniards and foreigners, but I do it because I’m finding my time on Zverev’s bench very motivating.”
To prepare for Roland Garros, Ferrer met with the man who had recently lost to Dominic Thiem in the final of the US Open. Zverev, who led the Austrian by two sets and a break in the championship match, had to accept what happened in order to free himself and set his sights on the next goal.
“The best thing was letting time go by,” said Ferrer. “Of course, he was sad for the first few days having been so close. Sascha has improved mentally.
“Seeing what happened in the tournament, I try to look for the positives, and there were a lot at the US Open: his attitude on court, always being present, going through tough times and accepting them. He has made great progress with his attitude.
“For them it was a chance to win their first Grand Slam,” said Ferrer. “It’s normal. It happens to everyone. It happened to Roger Federer at Wimbledon, why wouldn’t it happen to those two? In tennis, the hardest thing is closing out a match, at any level.”
With the wounds of the US Open now closed, Zverev has taken the first step towards claiming his first Grand Slam at Roland Garros with his straight-sets win against Novak. There is, however, a very long road ahead. The Coupe des Mousquetaires is still half a world away.
“He’s very good on clay,” said Ferrer. “He’s won in Madrid and Rome, his game is in good shape to do well on clay. He’s from Hamburg, and he’s more than used to clay. I’m very positive and I’m confident. I think he can do very well at Roland Garros.
“Sascha trained well during the week, always with the pressure that comes with playing a Grand Slam, especially in the first match. He’s come through that, now it’s time to keep moving forward.”