Tokyo Olympics: Alexander Zverev excited to compete, but medals his motivation

Alexander Zverev, world no.5, is excited to play in this year’s Olympics but importantly outlined he’s there to compete for medals – not just soaking up the atmosphere and experience that comes as Germany’s biggest hope in the sport.

Zverev eyeing Tokyo success across multiple disciplines

On the run: Zverev during a practice session yesterday

Zverev, a winner of 15 ATP singles titles, believes that no sporting event compares to the Olympics. All things considered, it’s hard to argue against that view.

However, whether rightly or wrongly, his upward trajectory has tailed off in recent seasons. He still hasn’t beaten a top-10 player at a Grand Slam, many have criticised him for underwhelming displays – particularly at the last two Majors – and he’s experienced enough to have performed better.

As such, it’s not particularly surprising Zverev wants to compete across three disciplines in Tokyo: singles, doubles with Jan-Lennard Struff as well as mixed doubles – Angelique Kerber was his expected partner but withdrew last week, citing the need for rest. He’ll know by Tuesday, when that draw is held.

Zverev, seeded fourth, was drawn in the top half of the men’s singles: world number one and 20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic could await him in the semi-finals next week.

“I’m very looking forward to it. Obviously with COVID it is going to be different, but I’m playing all three disciplines and excited to compete [both] for Germany and also medals.

That doesn’t mean I’ll win but I already see myself as one of the favourites. The atmosphere will be very special, to experience the Olympic Village once is of course madness.

I love Germany, always very much like to play for my country. It’s even more emotional when you know that everyone is cheering at home.”

In a subsection featuring Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego (13th seed), Aslan Karatsev (#11) as well as the winner of an enticing first-round matchup between Marton Fucsovics and Wimbledon semifinalist Hubert Hurkacz, Zverev appears to have a comfortable passage into round three.

That’s where things should start getting tricky rather quickly for him but on the prospect of facing Djokovic, he was understandably bullish despite a negative recent H2H record:

“You have to be able to do things that not many other players can do: run with him, be able to overpower him. I see myself as someone who always has a chance against him. If you play like him, you will lose – you must play classes better.

I think the best players always have such pressure. It’s always very positive to feel something like this – then you know you’re one of the best.”

The pair have met on nine occasions, with Djokovic winning seven times – including the last five. However, both of Zverev’s wins came in a best-of-three set format (Rome, 2017 and ATP Finals 2018).

Picture source: Getty Images, quotes via tennishead.net

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