Alexander Zverev Surprise French Open 1R Loss: Why it happened and where he goes from here

Alexander Zverev (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

After a brilliant clay court season in which he sprinted to titles in Munich and Rome, young German on the rise Alexander Zverev got bounced from the first round of the French Open by Spain's Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2... But why?


Zverev blamed himself.

"I played like absolute s---," said the 20-year-old after the loss. "It was all me more than anything or anyone."

Was it?

Or did Verdasco, a 33-year-old veteran of clay court tennis, out-tactic the lanky blond powerhouse dubbed "NextGen" star by the tennis world? And can others do the same?

The match was played over 2 days because it was suspended by darkness, but that was neither here nor there. The patient Verdasco had his number on both days.

Zverev is used to doing what he wants on the court. He can rally with his opponents or he can overpower them from the baseline. He did neither in this match. Verdasco held the edge in baseline points won 93-82. Zverev needed to play more defense and admitted he felt pressure.

"He pushed me back a lot. I didn't feel the ball on my racquet a lot," Zverev said.

Court positioning and distance behind the baseline might be something to keep an eye on as the young German continues to progress.

Verdasco also did a better job of returning 2nd serves, winning 58% (25 of 43) to Zeverev's 49% (19 of 39). A powerhouse player should be capitalizing more on second serves-- even on clay.

Despite the furious comments immediately after the match, Zverev at the same time appeared to shrug off the loss just minutes later.

"It's nothing to be tragic about," he said.

Tell that to the racquet he crushed with his hands.

Maturity is still a factor for the 6'6" phenom, who's held closely in the family circle by his Russian born parents and older brother tennis pro Mischa.  

Zverev is heard around Germany rarely speaking anything other than Russian and not doing much press or media.

That said, everyone agrees his potential has few if any limits-- and despite the loss in Paris, his clay court season was lucrative and successful.

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