ROLAND GARROS – As US Open finalist Alexander Zverev begins a clay-court season that, for him, consists exclusively of Roland Garros, a new partnership dawns.
The start of the 23-year-old German star’s association with accomplished former player David Ferrer begins in Paris.
And the two were on Court Philippe-Chatrier together Wednesday.
Zverev was playing practice sets with 21-year-old Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland.
Here’s what it looked like.
Ferrer still looking like a player
Now 38 (younger than Roger Federer or Feliciano Lopez) and about a year away from his retirement at the Madrid event in May 2019, Ferrer doesn’t look much different.
Maybe a little smaller, as former players often do when they stop making the gym a big part of their daily routine.
The hair, freshly coiffed from the looks of it, looks good.
You wonder if the former top players get bored. Being on the court as a coach during a tournament practice isn’t much more than jogging to shag missed first serves in the middle of the court, and standing there, arms crossed, looking captivated.
An experienced hand at Roland
Ferrer knows quite a bit about how to go about your business at Roland Garros.
He played it 16 times. And given he was already in the top 40 when he made his debut in 2003, he never had to go through the qualifying.
Ferrer made the second week eight times. He lost to Rafael Nadal in the 2012 semifinals, and again the next year in his only finals appearance. The next year, 2014, he again lost to Nadal in the quarterfinals. (Oh, and he lost to Nadal in the quarterfinals in 2005 as well).
Sixth time around for Zverev
As for Zverev, who is not a natural slider on the clay by any stretch, he’ll be playing his sixth Roland Garros – his fifth in the main draw.
While he hasn’t had crazy-good results, he also typically has been stopped by very, very, very good players.
He lost to his friend Dominic Thiem, who beat him two weeks ago in the US Open final, in both 2016 and 2018.
Novak Djokovic took care of him in the quarterfinals a year ago, after Zverev had dramatic victories earlier in the tournament.
Zverev was up two sets to love against both John Millman and Dusan Lajovic – but ended up needing five sets to beat them.