Smashed racquets, on-court meltdowns and three defeats from three matches, the ATP Cup in Brisbane has been a tournament to forget for Alexander Zverev.
The German world No.7’s preparations for the Australian Open are in tatters as he slumped to a 6-2 6-2 loss to Canada’s Denis Shapovalov on Pat Rafter Arena on Tuesday.
While the defeat didn’t contain the explosions of frustrations from his earlier matches, the performance was just as insipid for such a highly-touted player.
It seems a long time since he opened the tournament by claiming the first set of his clash with Australia’s Alex de Minaur on Friday.
Shapovalov completes Zverev domination | ATP Cup
De Minaur roared back to take the match 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-2, with Zverev smashing his racquet to pieces at the end of the second set.
The 22-year-old’s game was just as broken as his racquet from that point onwards, ending the match with 14 double faults.
On Sunday he served up another 10 double faults as he was defeated 6-1 6-4 by Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Zverev’s frustrations were once again evident in the clash with fellow top 10 player Tsitsipas, often arguing between games with Germany captain Boris Becker and his teammates.
At 0-2 in the second set, Zverev served his fifth and sixth double faults of the match, despite dialing the speed of his serves right back. According to commentator Josh Eagle, that’s precisely why it’s all going wrong for him at the moment, there’s no racquet head speed on the ball.
“There’s a lot of debate about whether he should go for it on his second serve or be passive, I think he should go for it because I think that increases his racquet head speed and that’s what’s lacking on the second serve,” Eagle said.
After the match finished and Zverev south counsel from Germany coach Boris Becker and others from his team, the commentator concluded: “Let’s hope we don’t come back to this point and say ‘this is where it started. This was his real decline.’
“These tennis players have got an incredible ability to forget and move on. And that’s what he has to do, some do it better.
“But at the moment he’s like an elephant, his memory’s just, he’s thinking about everything; remembering every one of these double faults.”
Tuesday’s clash with Shapovalov was little better, with seven double faults and quite often knocking 50km/h off his second serve in an attempt to get the ball in play.
A former world junior No.1, Zverev has been tipped for greatness since winning the ATP Finals in London in 2018.
Despite his talent however, his best grand slam result is a pair of quarter-final appearances in the French Open, while his fourth-round exit at last year’s Australian Open is his best result at Melbourne Park.
Given how he’s played over the past week in Brisbane, it appears unlikely Zverev will be bettering that result in 2020.