Tennis: Zverev criticizes ATP Tour over late-night matches

AP , Monday 9 May 2022

Alexander Zverev criticized the ATP Tour for its scheduling of late-night matches and said he was at a disadvantage in Sunday's final against Carlos Alcaraz at the Madrid Open.

Spain s Carlos Alcaraz (L) greets Germany s Alexander Zverev after winning their 2022 ATP Tour Madrid Open tennis tournament men s singles final match at the Caja Magica in Madrid on May 8, 2022. (AFP)

The third-ranked Zverev was overpowered by the 19-year-old Spaniard in straight sets.

Zverev conceded that he probably would have lost to Alcaraz even if he was ``fresh,'' but said that at least it would have been a ``better final'' if he hadn't had to go to bed after 4 a.m. local time in the previous nights.

He said it's a problem that has been happening on a weekly basis and he was getting ``tired of it,'' adding that the tour needs to do better to avoid being unfair with players.

``The ATP's job was an absolute disgrace this week,'' Zverev said. ``To play a final against Carlos Alcaraz, who for me is the best player in the world right now, in a Masters 1000 event ... it is difficult. I had no coordination today. I had no coordination on my serve, I had no coordination on my groundstrokes. I missed two overheads that were super easy because I see the ball and everything is moving in my eyes.''

He said that during the warmup he already knew he would struggle.

``I was a little bit late all of the time. My first step was not so quick,'' Zverev said. ``If you are playing the best players in the world, you have to be at your top. Otherwise you will have no chance. Today I had no chance.''

Zverev started Saturday's semifinal match against Stefanos Tsitsipas at about 11 p.m. local time and the three-set match ended after 1 a.m. He returned to the ``Caja Magica'' center court after the match to practice his service for a few minutes, then had to work with his physios and eat before getting back to the hotel.

``I think all of us have stayed up late, all of us maybe partied sometimes, but if you are staying up until 4 a.m., the next day you are dead,'' he said. ``I played the next day. If you're doing it again, the next day until 5 a.m., you will have a difficult time to be even awake.''

Zverev also played in the night session against Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarterfinals, when he won in two sets.

``I don't want to take anything away (from Carlos),'' Zverev said. ``I feel sad for the final that we played, because this could have been a very good match. This could have been a great match.''

The regular scheduling of high-profile late matches has been a major source of frustration for the German player.

``It's quite upsetting because it takes away a great match. It takes away the sport of tennis. Everybody wanted to see a great fight. Everybody wanted to see some high-level tennis. But I'm also human. I'm not a robot,`` Zverev said. ``I can't. I simply I cannot be on my level when this is happening every single night.''

Zverev also had to play late in Acapulco earlier this year.

``The chances are being taken away from me,'' he said. ``At the end of the day, everybody forgets about those things. Nobody talks about it, you know. Everybody says, `Yeah, it was a bad match, I made double faults, I didn't play well' and all of that. But look at what is happening the days before. Look at what is actually happening behind the scenes, as well. It's not quite fair, I think.''

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