Melbourne | Raonic smashes Zverev
Neither Alexander Zverev nor Borna Coric were able to match the performances of yesterday’s ‘young bloods’ which took them into the last right at this year’s Australian Open. The hoped for ‘changing of the guard’ is yet to be fully accomplished.
It made me feel better, I was very angry, so I let my anger out. Alexander Zverev
In fact Zverev as the ‘flagbearer’ of the NextGen was badly beaten by Milos Raonic and in his frustration smashed his racket in order to relieve the pressure.
He admitted he felt better after making mincemeat of his racket but though it made him ‘feel better’, it didn’t prevent him from stumbling out of the first major of the year.
A very composed Raonic didn’t allow himself to be distracted by the antics of the fourth seeded German as he strolled through the opening sets and prevented any fightback in the third to make the last eight, 6-1 6-1 7-6(5).
When asked to comment on the incident, the big Canadian was non-committal. “I have sort of faced that situation, and I was also ahead at that point, so I was just really focusing on myself,” he told reporters.
“I wasn’t really thinking too much about him on his end. So it didn’t really have too much of an effect. I just tried to stay composed.”
Zverev, who is tipped as a future Grand Slam champion after a breakthrough 2018 which saw him win the ATP Tour Finals, beating Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the process, has yet to show his potential at the majors.
His racket smashing performance came as he lost his serve again at 4-1 down in the second set, berating himself at having dropped serve again, and receiving a racket abuse earning from umpire Carlos Ramos.
“It made me feel better,” he said. “I was very angry, so I let my anger out.”
Raonic, who will face Lucas Pouille in the quarter-finals, commented. “You know, it can have an effect in a lot of different ways. You know, if you’re a top guy and you do that against somebody who doesn’t have experience, it might sort of cause them to retreat a little bit.
“I have sort of faced that situation, and I was also ahead at that point, so I was just really focusing on myself. So I wasn’t really thinking too much about him on his end. So it didn’t really have too much of an effect.
“Obviously you never know why the other guy is doing it. Sometimes a guy can do it to try to help himself. Sometimes it can be just purely frustration. You just try to focus on your own thing and continue at that point.”
Zverev put up a more spirited fight in the third set but couldn’t get himself back into the match and was clearly disappointed at his poor start.
“I mean, I played bad. The first two sets especially I played horrible.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s just tough to name on one thing. I didn’t serve well, didn’t play well from the baseline. Against a quality player like him, it’s tough to come back from that.
“I have been struggling with my second serve the whole week, actually. I don’t have a lot of rhythm on it, so I tried to figure that out, I tried to work on that. Hopefully I will be better next time.”
“Right now I’m not happy, but I’m not depressed, either,” he continued attempting to put a realistic spin on it. “It’s fine. It’s a tennis match. I have learned to take tennis matches as tennis matches and not the end of the world. If I would think it’s the end of the world every time I lose a tennis match, I would be very depressed about 15 to 20 times a year. So I’m not going to do that.”
Zverev had started well breaking Raonic in the opening game only for the Canadian to immediately recover as he said: “I was glad I turned around that start quickly. I gave myself a lot of curse words after the first game.”
Then the match disintegrated as far as the German was concerned as Roanic collected the next nine games thanks to a series of errors from Zverev.
The world number four committed eight double faults and 16 unforced errors against only eight winners as the first two sets swept past in 63 minutes.
Zverev left the court for a toilet break at the end of the second set and was more competitive when he returned, erasing his mistakes to hang on for a tiebreak facing two match points on the way before conceding a place in the quarter-finals.
Lucas Pouille is next up for Raonic having successfully eliminated another NextGen player, Borna Coric from the lists 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5 7-6(2).
Pouille, arrived in the fourth round having played 12 sets in his previous three matches and showed that his fitness hadn’t been diminished by those efforts, coming back strongly after losing the opening set on a tiebreak.