Alexander zverev has coped well with the scare before the australian open and sees no problems for his opening match at the first tennis highlight of the year. "The fub hurts a little. It’s like a bruise on the bone," said zverev in melbourne.
Two days earlier, he had twisted his ankle in training and suffered a swelling. "It takes time. I’m not too worried about it," the unofficial world champion added calmly. Zverev will play his first-round match against slovenian aljaz bedene on tuesday with a tape. Even his thigh, which was still sore at the beginning of the week, no longer causes the world number four any concern. On saturday, zverev practiced for two hours with spanish player fernando verdasco after what he said was a planned break from training.
Regardless of his fitness, the 21-year-old from hamburg stressed that he does not see himself as a favorite for the first grand slam tournament in the new year. Zverev named swiss defending champion roger federer, serbian world number one novak djokovic and rafael nadal. The spaniard, who has been out of action since the US open due to injury, says he is recovering well from a bone operation and recent thigh problems.
Zverev, like angelique kerber, doesn’t want to set too high expectations for himself. Both started the new year together at the hopman cup in perth and missed the victory at the unofficial mixed world championship by just a whisker. In melbourne both declared their interest to compete as a german mixed pair at the olympics in tokyo in 2020.
Three years after her australian open triumph, kerber also considers herself well rested before she plays the third match of the day against slovenian polona hercog on monday at the rod-laver-arena. "I feel quite well so far. Of course i think it’s a pity that i couldn’t defend sydney now," said kerber, two days after her quarterfinal exit at the dress rehearsal in the olympic city of 2000, where she won the tournament the year before.
It was the first defeat of the new year, which she had started with four singles victories at the hopman cup. "I had good matches in perth, also in sydney, and i know now where i stand. It was very important for me to have these matches, to win close matches against good players," the 30-year-old explained.
The world number two is happy to have the feeling of competition again. With her new trainer rainer schuttler she worked on small details. "Talking to him is different because he played himself," kerber said about the 2003 australian open finalist. The 42-year-old from northern hesse knows what it’s like to stand on the court and show emotions.
In addition to kerber, five other of the 13 qualified german pros will compete on the first day of the tournament. Right at the start of the tournament (01.00 o’clock CET) julia gorges meets american danielle collins. Andrea petkovic will also play against irina-camelia begu from rumania. In the men’s singles, jan-lennard struff will face the australian matthew ebden, peter gojowczyk is the aubenseiter against the russian karen chatschanow, as is qualifier rudi molleker against the argentinian diego schwartzman.