Alexander Zverev gives major update on ankle recovery with US Open on the horizon
Zverev hasn't played since the injury in French Open 2022, but in a recent interview, he revealed he's optimistic about his return, even if the date isn't set at this point in time.
Alexander Zverev saw his stocks rising higher than ever before, now settled at number 2 in the world behind Russian Daniil Medvedev. This comes on the back off a strong last 12 months, which has included an Olympic gold medal, a semifinal appearance at both the US Open 2021 and French Open 2022, and a second World Tour Final trophy at the end of last year. For a player criticised for an inability to make it deep at grand slam events, he looked well-set to finally make a breakthrough sooner rather than later.
However, a freak injury in the French Open semifinal against Rafael Nadal saw him forced to sit out of the tour for an extended period of time, as he tore multiple ligaments in his ankle after a bad slip and fall. He hasn't played since then, but in an interview with Eurosport this week, he revealed he's optimistic about his return, even if the date isn't set at this point in time.
"The healing process is going very well,” said the 25-year-old German. “I'm making important progress every day and I'm looking forward to the next tasks that will bring me closer and closer to the tennis court. An exact date for a comeback hasn't been set yet, but I'm working every day to make sure it happens as soon as possible."
The injury happened at the worst time possible for Zverev, as he looked capable of beating a version of Nadal who himself was fighting against pain in Paris. When asked about his routine in rehabbing, Zverev explained, "The days are very long. You start very early and finish in the evening. We do a lot of exercises, there are always new ones that are added permanently."
“The foot is treated, mobility is worked out, strength and stability are rebuilt. In some cases, normal walking and running are re-learned. I do sprint exercises in the water, training sessions on the treadmill and bicycle," elaborated Zverev.
The young German also made clear that he wishes not to have a mentality block regarding the injury that many athletes struggle with, preventing them from placing full trust in parts of their body which have been injured. "There are always dangers in professional sport, and even in everyday life you are exposed to dangers. My team and I work highly concentrated every day so that there are no problems. Of course, you want to train as much as possible, but you can't overdo it."
“I have to listen very carefully to my body and know when I have reached my limits," continued Zverev. "I'm used to getting the maximum out of myself almost every day, whether in training or matches. Exceeding it now could be counterproductive." Zverev is considered one of the best athletes on the tour, who combines the power of his 6'6" frame with elite speed and movement to track down balls from the baseline, as well as with stamina to last longer into rallies. The mental aspect of his game has always been his biggest weakness, but he seemed to have made great progress on that front in recent months.
Zverev will hope that his body continues to hold up once he does make his return, although it looks unlikely for that to happen at the US Open, with the tournament only 5 weeks away. He has always enjoyed the latter quarter of the tour, and played his best tennis in those events: a return around that time of the calendar could see him spring right back into action. One of the most dangerous players on tour, Zverev's message could be a warning sign to his rivals to not take him easy once he does return.