Alexander Zverev strives for US Open glory as family says a healthy return is all they care about

The world No.7 currently resides in one of the tournament’s official hotels with competitors limited to a support team of just three.

“I’m someone who travels all the time with the family, I’m always with my dad, my mom, my brother too, and they’re not all there which is for me a little weird so I traveled here only with my physical trainer and my physio, ”the 23-year-old told CNN from his private suite at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“None of my coaches or team members want to go here, they didn’t feel safe. I respect that, so I wasn’t pushing them towards that.”

Zverev's brother Mischa (left) says 'the whole family' is concerned about Alexander coming home healthy rather than how well he does at the US Open.

Also with him in the Big Apple is the trainer of his brother and professional tennis colleague, Mischa Zverev. The eldest Zverev – who doesn’t play at this year’s US Open – is 10 years old from Alex. He’s a mentor to him both on and off the pitch and although he’ll be a continent far away in Europe, you can be sure he’s keeping a close eye on his brother’s progress.

“I think my concern or that of the whole family is like, not how far you are at the US Open,” Mischa Zverev told CNN Sport, relaying a message of family love. “We want you to come back healthy and once you come back you want the whole team to come back healthy and as quickly as possible.

“And that’s all we care about, that’s all we really care about.”

Zverev took part in the controversial Adria Tour where a number of players, with the exception of Zverev, tested positive for the coronavirus.

While waiting to return to Flushing Meadows, Alex sheds more light on life inside the US Open “bubble” of the sequel being offered to seeded players in the absence of fans.

“At the site where there are normally millions of people, they built a mini golf course and they built basketball hoops and they built a lot of things just for us players which is a great experience. for us, ”says Alex.

“But obviously we miss the crowd, we miss the people because the emotions that it gives us playing in front of 20,000 fans is something we’re not going to have this year.”

And then there is the issue of security.

“I feel safe,” revealed the tournament’s fifth seed. “We are tested, we were tested every other day the first few days, and now every four days, and I feel like they do a great job testing everyone and trying to keep it too. sure as possible. ”

“We can’t just think of ourselves right now. We have to think of everyone. We have to think of our team members. We have to think of other players.”

Sibling rivalry

Alexander “Sascha” Zverev – who won the 2018 season-ending ATP final – is quick to pay tribute to the “massive impact” his older brother Mischa has had on his life. Indeed, when it comes to the Zverev family, there is no doubt that tennis is truly a family affair.

Their parents – Alexander Zverev Senior and mum Irina – are themselves former distinguished players.

Is it really a case of brotherly love when it comes to Mischa and Alex? Sure, but don’t also overlook a rather intense sibling rivalry over the years despite the 10-year age gap and the fact that it took more than 500 main draw games at the touring level before coming down. meeting emotionally on the ATP Tour for the very first time. .

Brotherly Love?  Yes, don't expect them to play board games against each other.

“Oh, it’s been dirty and ugly a few times, but it was always a lot of fun,” reveals Mischa, whose career singles ranking is 25.

“We stopped playing board games a few years ago because we thought it just wasn’t healthy, it wasn’t safe, and we’re trying to limit it to practice matches on the tennis court and a few other things. But like board games, basketball etc on one, we just, we said it’s safer if we don’t do that anymore. “

Elder Zverev – who recently became a father – says he’s extremely proud of everything his younger brother has achieved so far in the sport, but points out that there is one thing he just can’t stand .

“I don’t care if I win, I just don’t want to lose to him. That’s the main goal!”

Success 2020

This year has already proved to be eventful for Alex Zverev. In January, he qualified for the semi-finals of the Australian Open – the first time in his career he reached the last four in a Grand Slam tournament.

The young German’s momentum at the start of the season was interrupted by the stoppage of Covid-19 tennis, in which he took part in the controversial Adria Tour event in the Balkans.

This week, he returned to competition at the forerunner of this year’s US Open, the Western and Southern Open where he suffered a round of 16 loss to Andy Murray on Monday.

Alexander Zverev had his career-best Grand Slam result earlier this year when he reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open, losing to eventual runner-up Dominic Thiem.

There is no doubt that these are unprecedented times for all of those involved in the sport with new perspectives shaped along the way.

“You learn that tennis, at the end of the day, isn’t everything,” Alex said. “There are more important things that you really need to take care of the people around you, whom you love.

“I kind of went to Europe alone, and I was alone for about a month and a half, two months without my parents, without my brother, without anyone else, and you just learn to appreciate the little things more. .

He added: “I think I’m more disciplined … I had to really grow up in a certain way, because I had to train, I had to live my daily life on my own, to go shopping, to food, just like that, I had to do it myself, which I never did. “

Munich mania

And there is something else the Zverev brothers have in common: their mutual dedication to everything Bayern Munich is concerned with.

Bayern last weekend became European champions for the sixth time. The siblings even took part in an online training session with the Bavarian giants earlier in the season.

Difficult training? Yes quite. Mischa described the experience as “extremely cool” even though it meant a 5am start while Alex expressed his pride in the squad as well as his continued friendship with Bayern superstar Thomas Muller.

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