Zverev: 'I Don't Think It's My Last Chance'
There was the initial two-sets lead he held against Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s final, followed by a chance to serve out the match at 5-3 in the fifth set. He then came within two points of victory during the fifth-set tie-break before falling after more than four hours of play.
Few could blame Zverev for having to hold back tears during his gracious speech in the trophy ceremony. But after an inspired run to his first major final, he's confident that he’ll get other opportunities in the future.
”At the speech, I got emotional. I couldn’t put two words together… It was a difficult moment for me,” Zverev said. “I was super close to being a Grand Slam champion. I was a few games away, maybe a few points away. What upset me the most is not the third set. It’s the fifth set. I had a lot of chances in the fifth set and didn't use them.
”I'm 23 years old. I don't think it's my last chance. I do believe that I will be a Grand Slam champion at some point."
"Since the day you were born, I knew you were special.... and I always looked up to you, no matter our age. You were the one who always made me believe in our dreams, and even if it wasn’t meant to be tonight, I know that our dreams will come true. I am proud to be your brother." pic.twitter.com/VmJhkw7Ua8— ATP Tour (@atptour) September 14, 2020
Putting himself so close to winning a major championship is proof of the mental hurdles that Zverev has broken through this season. He admitted being too eager for Grand Slam success in the past and allowed self-imposed pressure to hold him back. After taking a more relaxed approach this year at the Australian Open, he was rewarded with his first major semi-final.
Zverev was the on-paper favourite for his quarter-final and semi-final matches this fortnight against Borna Coric and Pablo Carreno Busta. He struggled with those expectations in both matches, but rallied to produce come-from-behind victories, including his first win from two sets down against Carreno Busta.
His fighting spirit never wavered against Thiem, but his body betrayed him in the final minutes of the match. Zverev began cramping in his left leg during the fifth-set tie-break and it impacted his serve, contributing to a pair of costly double faults. Thiem also struggled with leg cramps during the tie-break.
”My left quad was cramping,” Zverev explained. “I couldn’t push off anymore. I couldn’t actually hit the first serve anymore.”
Zverev will soon shift his attention to the clay-court swing and hopes to bring his level from the first two sets against Thiem over to Europe. He struck 24 winners and won 88 per cent of his first-serve points during that time, but acknowledged that the match turned once Thiem was able to get more of Zverev’s big serves in play.
”The match turned when he broke me for the first time in the third set. I think he started playing much better and I started playing much worse,” Zverev said. “But I still had plenty of chances after that.”
Zverev's deep run will also boost his chances of returning to the Nitto ATP Finals, held at The O2 from 15-22 November. The 2018 champion in London picked up 1,200 points for his runner-up finish in New York.