Alexander Zverev has told Novak Djokovic and his Australian Open rivals that they would be ‘foolish’ to consider him as a potential winner of the opening Grand Slam of the season after his lengthy spell out injured. The 25-year-old reached the semi-final at last year’s French Open but missed Wimbledon and the US Open due to injuries.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games champion says he is no longer in pain after recovering from a bone edema injury and hasn’t played since tearing several ankle ligaments at Roland Garros in June. After fearing his career might be over last season, the German is now pain free and preparing for this month’s Australian Open despite playing down his chances.
“Obviously I’m still far from where I want to be, but I consider it normal because I spent seven months without competing,” he told Serbian newspaper Sportal. “Whenever you go to a tournament, you want to win it. It would be foolish to think that I could win the Australian Open title.
“I can’t set high expectations at the moment.” After almost seven months out of action Zverev returned during the Diriyah Tennis Cup exhibition in Saudi Arabia early last month.
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The German beat Dominic Thiem in the exhibition event before losing to 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-0. Zverev says he still needs to improve his fitness ahead of the first Grand Slam tournament of the season.
He added: “Physically, I notice that I get tired much faster than usual and I will have to get used to it and improve this aspect if I want to be competitive. I know this has everything to do with inaction, so it’s time to get to work and be patient.