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The proud family company Alexander Zverev - "He will now attack first place"

Alexander Zverev ended his tennis year in 2021 with a bang - after a short break in the Maldives, he wants to attack at the top in 2022. With his family with him, of course.

by Jörg Allmeroth
last edit: Nov 22, 2021, 08:14 pm

Mischa Zverev, Alexander Zverev
© Getty Images
Mischa Zverev, Alexander Zverev

Irina Zverev can still remember the little cheating. The tricks she used to keep her younger son Alexander happy. If they played "Mensch ärgere dich nicht" together or stood on the tennis court, mom had to back off at some point. "I then just let Sascha win to save the mood," says the mother, "he would never have preferred to lose." And that has changed little to this day: "He wants to win. It's in his blood. "

Mother Zverev is by no means the secretive conductor of this amazing family dynasty, which experienced great moments at the Olympic Games in Tokyo and now also at the ATP World Cup in Turin. In the evening of August 1, 2021, at exactly 6:37 p.m., Alexander Zverev sank to the ground as a gold medalist on Center Court - it was one of the greatest German Olympic moments and at the same time the culmination of the development of the busy tennis clan in the early 1990s moved from Russia to Germany. With the world title in Turin at the end of November, the strongest and most impressive tour year to date for the youngest of the family came to an end. "For all of us these are incredible, moving days," says Mischa Zverev (34), Alexander's older brother.

Boris Becker on Zverev: "Attack 1st place"

His own professional tennis life is coming to an end on arenas in the second or third division, while Alexander's career could experience another rapid acceleration thanks to the gold coup and the success of the World Cup. “Sascha has really got off to a good start”, says Boris Becker, the German tennis chancellor, “these great victories always provide a certain comfort. He was running after something like the Olympics for a long time. ”Now, according to Becker, Zverev will“ attack first place in the ranking ”and“ attack Grand Slam titles ”with even more self-confidence.

Zverev's success is deeply rooted in the support and accompaniment of his family, without mother Irina (54), father Alexander sr. (61) and brother Mischa (34) this career would not be imaginable at all. Olympic champion Zverev had employed many hard-working helpers and service staff in recent years who rendered him valuable services around the globe - for example the charming French physiotherapist Hugo Gravil, a man with healing hands. Or, until recently, the British fit maker Jez Green, one of the most competent grinders in the industry. But the not very big secret of success are the eternal, inseparable family ties of the Zverevs, the principle of “Family First”, which has become even more important over the years of growing challenges and sometimes also threats. Only father Alexander was absent in Turin for his son's recent triumph, he does not always cope well with the stresses of the stressful business and apparently had to recover on the advice of the doctors.


Golden boy Zverev had little choice but to head for a career in the professional tennis business early on. He was on the professional tour with his parents and brother from an early age, mother Irina can even remember how she took Alexander to a tennis court just four days after he was born. "He was like a circus kid who traveled from place to place," says the mom, who was once the fourth best player in Russia and was considered a great fighter in her matches.

Whenever time allowed, the mother kept her younger son busy on the tennis court, giving hundreds, thousands of hours of lessons, ensuring a rock-solid education. Father Alexander sr. later took care of the details and fine-tuning, as he did with brother Mischa. Dad had enough knowledge and experience: in the 80s he was number 175 in the world rankings, an elegant, aesthetic player who would have achieved a lot more had it not been for the limited travel options in the era of the “Iron Curtain”. "Unfortunately, he was born in the wrong time," says son Alexander.

Papa Zverev "for me the best trainer in the world"

The gold medal miner, who started the adult tour as a teenager in 2014, has repeatedly employed top-class coaches in recent years - legends like Ivan Lendl . Or another former number one player, the Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero. And finally his compatriot David Ferrer, who used to be the greatest hardworker on the scene. But while the well-known coaches came and went, Papa Zverev always remained the determining, thinking and guiding force in the background, the great silent man who always grimly and doggedly observed the matches. "For me he is the best coach in the world," says son Alexander, "and he will remain my coach until the end of my career."

The Schlaks completely ignored the fact that many experts, including colleagues who were friends, advised him from time to time to emancipate himself from his father and from his family in tennis matters. "In the end, I feel most comfortable with the people I can trust wholeheartedly," says Zverev, "with my family I know that it's all about me." The other Zverevs also stuck to him unconditionally than last Herbst allegations surfaced that the younger brother was involved in domestic violence against his former girlfriend Olga Sharypova .

Alexander Zverev: Headlines outside of tennis

Zverev called the allegations "invented", mother Irina explained that Sharypova was "restless and unstable" and had wrestled with her for "Sascha's attention". The eventful last year of Zverev also saw the birth of his daughter Mayla, the child they shared with their partner, Brenda Patea, who had also passed away, was born in early March. On the evening of the gold medal win in Tokyo, social media clips appeared showing Zverev's lightning call to ex-girlfriend Patea and her daughter. "The little one was almost the first to see the medal," said Zverev. In the meantime, Zverev has hit the headlines with actress Sophia Thomalla , the couple is now going on a vacation trip to the Maldives with a large circle of friends and family.

Zverev now relies almost entirely on the family for his business affairs. Brother Mischa, who was denied a great career in the tennis circuit, took over the management of the Olympic champion in the spring and is now not only looking after the best deals with sponsors or tournament organizers. But also and especially about cultivating the image and bringing the younger brother "closer to the German sports fans."

In fact, there is still some catching up to do here because the current fifth in the world rankings was marketed very early on by his first manager, Patricio Apey, as a future world star that Germany no longer needs to be interested in. Apey snubbed German media, including German tennis organizers - but the damage was caused by Zverev, who was regularly perceived as an arrogant young star with a tax-optimized residence in Monte Carlo.

The Tokyo Games recently looked like a single reconciliation tour with the German public. Hardly an interview went by without Zverev emphasizing that “I played for himself at the end of the day”: “I took the field for a whole country, also for all the other athletes here in Tokyo and for the people who watched it at home ", he explained," this medal is not just mine. "After his World Cup coup, there is hardly any doubt that he will be voted" Sportsman of the Year "in December.

Zverev looks to 2022: "knows that it will bring a lot of good for me"

Since he started touring tennis as a young professional, the Hamburg native has been accompanied by massive expectations. As a teenager, he was already traded as the upcoming number 1 or Grand Slam champion. The fact that he became ATP world champion in London at the age of 21, with victories on the final weekend against Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, did not reduce hopes. "He carried all sorts of ballast around with him," says national coach Michael Kohlmann, "he often fought against himself and his claims."

The golden trip to Tokyo seemed like an act of liberation for Zverev, who now plays with enormous security and a matter of course at the highest level. In a tennis world in upheaval, Zverev appears more than ever like a natural contender for the Grand Slam top title and perhaps also for the top spot in the world rankings. The once relentlessly dominant trio with Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer is just dissolving, Maestro Federer should only try to make a halfway conciliatory career departure in the 2022 season. Matador Nadal is injured again and again, and his tormented body regularly sends SOS.

Only Djokovic is still firmly enthroned at the top, but Zverev beat him, the seemingly invincible "Maximo Leader", twice on the way to his top victories in 2021, in Tokyo and Turin. "I'm already looking forward to 2022, I know that it will bring a lot of good things for me," says Zverev.

by Jörg Allmeroth

Nov 22, 2021, 09:10 pm
last edit: Nov 22, 2021, 08:14 pm