After missing six months, Alexander Zverev will return to racing in Saudi Arabia in December. Zverev has been the leader of the NextGen since 2017, becoming the first youngster in years capable of fighting opponents from the top.
Alexander had been ranked in the top 10 since late July of that year, spending five years and three months in the company of the elite. A couple of weeks ago, Zverev became the 18th player since 1973 with 250 consecutive weeks in the top 10, but his run ended early.
The German fell out of the top 10 after 253 weeks, not playing since Roland Garros and missing out on a chance to embrace his sixth straight annual top 10. Alexander started the 2022 season ranked 3, with a realistic chance of becoming world number one.
1 at some point. Zverev broke into the top-2 for the first time in June, but a serious ankle injury in the Roland Garros semi-final ended his progress. Alexander tore three of his lateral ligaments during the clash against Rafael Nadal.
He gave it his all against the king of clay and kept him on the court for three hours before the end of the second set. Zverev misstepped the slow clay at the last point of game 12 of the second set and injured his ankle, falling to the ground and screaming in pain.
Alexander retired against Rafa for the first time in his career, doing everything right for over three hours before a terrible setback. Zverev built the lead in the first set before Nadal broke again in the eighth game.
Rafael Nadal is a world icon
On the same podcast, Nicolás Lapentti also mentioned his first meeting with a young and tenacious 17-year-old Rafael Nadal in 2003.
“Nadal has that thing that he is the best competing. Every point, every week for the last 20 years. It’s 20 years. I played against Rafa in 2003, okay? in bastad. The first time we played, Rafa was 17 years old.
I beat him 7-6 in the third (set). I saved four match points. He was a giant boy, baby face, huge arms fighting like a bull,” he recalled. “So that was already almost 20 years ago. I mean, he’s been on the road for 20 years.
So that’s what amazes me the most. Is Alcaraz going to be able to stay 10 years up? Rafa, I don’t think Rafa has been out of the top 10 in the last 20 years or something like that. I mean, she’s crazy,» she expressed.