Former world No. 2 Alexander Zverev continues to struggle for his return to the sport after a long absence through injury, with the German easily beaten in his last United Cup game.
Zverev lost 6-1, 6-4 to world No. 9 Taylor Fritz, his second loss in a matter of days.
Earlier in the tournament, Zverev was beaten by Jiří Lehečka, 6-4, 6-2.
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This is the first official tournament for Zverev since sustaining a serious ankle injury at Roland Garros in June.
The first set against Fritz only lasted 21 minutes, a sign of the distance between Zverev.
“He’s in a rebuilding phase. He’s still looking for confidence, which is interesting because at the time he got injured he was playing the best tennis of his life,” commentator Todd Woodbridge said. of Nine, at Wide World of Sports.
Match Summary: Taylor Fritz vs. Alexander Zverev
“He was close to reaching world No. 1, but the passage of time has put some doubt in him.
“He doesn’t look completely comfortable moving around the pitch, but I think that’s part of match play, he needs time to settle in.”
The German’s troubles are bad news for his Australian Open campaign, a tournament where he reached the semi-finals in 2020 and the quarter-finals in 2021.
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“I think the game against Fritz would be a little disappointing for him. It just shows where his confidence is,” Woodbridge said.
“The beauty of the United Cup is that he had at least two matches, but none of them were anywhere near the level we are used to seeing from him.
“He’s going to have to make some mental changes to go further in Melbourne. I think that’s going to be a big ask.”
Speaking after the loss to Lehečka, Zverev admitted his fitness was still far from where it should be.
“I think his ball was good, the problem is the serve,” Woodbridge explained.
“That’s what stood out. It was a bit hard to watch at times.
Listen to all six episodes of The Happy Slam podcast on Apple and on Spotifyfeaturing in-depth interviews with tennis legends Pat Rafter, Jelena Dokic, Jim Courier, Dylan Alcott, Todd Woodbridge and current WTA Australia’s Top Player, Ajla Tomljanovic.
“All he needs is to win a game or two. If he gets a draw in Melbourne where he can win a few games, he can work his way up and start feeling more normal.
“He’s always worked hard, but his conditioning is still not where it needs to be, even with all the rehab he would have done. He needs time on the court, and in Melbourne he’s the best five sets, so it will be a real test for him.
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