PARIS: Alexander Zverev appeared calm as a monk compared to the exuberance of his teenage opponent Carlos Alcaraz during their gruelling French Open quarter-final on Tuesday and the German believes reining in his emotions was crucial to his win.
With the vast majority of the crowd at Court Philippe Chatrier rooting for the 19-year-old, who was on a 14-match winning streak, Zverev showed nerves of steel for the entire three hours and 18 minutes of the match.
“I think it was extremely important, because I knew that it was going to be a very long and very physical match, and I couldn’t show too many emotions because that also makes you tired,” Zverev told reporters.
“That also drains the energy of you. So I had to stay calm. I had to stay calm throughout the whole match, even though I feel like I left chances in the third set behind, so I had to stay calm when I lost the third set.
“Had to stay calm when I didn’t serve out the fourth set at 5-4. I think that was quite important how I came back in the game of 6-5. Then obviously in the tiebreak it was a back-and-forth, with quite good tennis.”
Zverev was broken while serving for the match in the fourth set and was forced to save a set point in the tiebreak before converting his second matchpoint to seal the contest when he let all his emotions out with a huge roar.
Alcaraz had defeated Olympic champion Zverev this month in the final of the ATP Masters in Madrid, their most recent meeting and their only one on clay.
The German was glad he did not have to play a deciding set.
“I think Carlos is one of the best players in the world right now. It seems quite impossible to beat him,” Zverev added.
“But I knew that I had to play my absolute best from the first point on. I think letting him go ahead in the match, letting him get the confidence was going to be a very difficult thing for me to come back from. In the end I’m happy that I won in four sets and didn’t have to go to a fifth set.”
“At the end of the day, I said a lot of times, I’m not 20 or 21 years old anymore; I’m 25. I am at the stage where I want to win, I’m at the stage where I’m supposed to win, as well.”