Alexander Zverev was among the candidates for the ATP throne this season. The German played well in the first half of the season and looked good to fight for Major titles and the no. 1 spot. Zverev became world no. 2 for the first time in June, but there was no time for celebration.
He injured his right ankle against Rafael Nadal in that epic Roland Garros semi-final, undergoing surgery and not playing since. Zverev made a wrong step on the slow clay in the second set’s 12th game’s last point and injured his ankle, falling to the ground and screaming in pain.
He went off the court in the wheelchair before returning a few minutes later on crutches, only to announce his retirement. Alexander and his team went for further checks and decided to undergo surgery. Zverev missed the rest of the season, left the top-10 group for the first time since 2017 and skipped the ATP Finals.
Alexander Zverev spoke about his injury against Rafael Nadal.
Alexander’s retirement versus Rafa was his first in a career, doing everything right for over three hours before a terrible setback. Zverev built the advantage in the opening set before Nadal broke back in game eight.
The Spaniard fended off four set points in the tie break and claimed five straight points from 6-2 down. After more drama, Rafa stole the breaker 10-8 and claimed the opener after grueling 91 minutes. Zverev broke four times in a row in the second set and opened a 5-3 lead before failing to serve out for the set.
Nadal stayed in contention and moved through after the 12th game, as his rival could not continue due to severe pain in his right ankle. Alexander will return to action in Saudi Arabia in a couple of weeks, eager to get back where he belongs and chase notable titles in 2023.
“I broke seven ligaments and needed surgery. You have to accept those setbacks and live with them. It happened during the Roland Garros semi-final, with me trying to achieve a lifetime goal. It did not occur while snowboarding or skiing; it was not a stupid accident.
I realized what life without tennis is like for the first time, and I appreciate my job and career even more. I miss traveling and competing; hopefully, I’m ready for something big and new. I was still in the ATP Race to Turin a few weeks before the event, indicating a good season. Rafa and I played on a very high level in Paris, with both at the absolute limit,” Alexander Zverev said.