Alexander Zverev is at a cross-roads. If not quite that, then he is certainly having to go back to the drawing board following his parting with Ivan Lendl and his rumoured legal settlement with his former coach and now his defeat in the Hamburg European Open semi-final to Nikoloz Basilashvili in front of his home crowd.
He has not developed it. Even Federer plays differently now compared to five years ago. You need to constantly evolve. John McEnroe
Basiashvili, the defending champion and fourth seed, upset the second seeded German playing courtesy of a wildcard in the hope of rebuilding his confidence.
The Georgian won 6-4 4-6 7-6(5) recovering from 3-5 down in the decider and saving two match points before levelling and then breaking the German to force a tiebreak where he again rallied from 2-5 down to seal a hard-earned victory and a tilt at retaining his title.
He meets the unseeded Andrey Rublev returning from a injury marred year – lowr back stress and wrist injury – who fought his way past Pablo Carreno-Busta 4-6 7-5 6-1 to make the title round.
But it was the Zverev loss which attracted the attention of both Boris Becker and John McEnroe who believe the German has to improve his game if he is ever to fulfil his potential.
“Zverev plays too much on the defence. I would like to see him going forward.
He needs to do better. Taking the ball early and going to the net is the key. With his fighting spirit and attitude, he wants to dominate his opponents, which is good. The only question mark is: how much will it last and against who?” the former word No.1 told the Bild.
McEnroe added: “At some point, his game was figured out by his opponents. He has not developed it. Even Federer plays differently now compared to five years ago. You need to constantly evolve. He is a bit aggressive from the baseline.”
Zverv was not impressed by the comments, declaring: “They can do both things. I do not think so, as do my father and Ivan Lendl.
“Bullshit. Boris and McEnroe were at the net for their whole lifetime. I will not do it. It’s different.”