By Jürgen Fritz, Wed 08 Jun 2022, Cover photo: Instagram-Screenshots
The pictures of Alexander Zverev twisting his ankle so badly in the Roland Garros semi-final against Nadal that he tore several ligaments in his right foot went around the world. Now the world No. 1 in the JFB Ranking had to undergo surgery. What does this mean for Wimbledon, which starts in just under three weeks, and what for the US Open starting at the end of August?
Alexander Zverev had to undergo foot surgery
In the ATP Ranking, Alexander Zverev will be No. 2 in the world for the first time next Monday, in the slightly more precise, less tendentious and more up-to-date JFB 52 Week Tennis World Ranking, the Olympic and ATP Finals winner and Roland Garros semi-finalist has been No. 1 in the world since the day before yesterday. But it was in this French Open semi-final that something highly tragic happened in the match against eventual tournament winner Rafael Nadal at the end of the second set: Zverev twisted his ankle so badly while sliding into his forehand and overstretched it so drastically that all three lateral ligaments in his right ankle tore. „To return to competition as quickly as possible, to ensure all the ligaments heal properly, and to reclaim full stability in my ankle, surgery was the best choice“, Alexander Zverev wrote on his Instagram account on Tuesday evening.
So it is clear that the 25-year-old will not only be out of the grass court preparation tournament in Halle next week, but also two weeks later in Wimbledon, although that was to be expected anyway after this injury. The question will be what his chances are now for a start at the US Open. More on that in a moment. But what does this mean for this year’s Wimbledon tournament?
Wimbledon will be missing the world No. 1 and No. 2, possibly the No. 4 as well
It means that both the world No. 1 and No. 2 will be unable to compete, Daniil Medvedev because he, like all Russian and Belarusian players, has been excluded by the tournament organisers because of Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine, Alexander Zverev because he must first recover from surgery. And it could get even worse. Rafael Nadal, the world No. 4, is also anything but certain to start.
The Spaniard, who has just won Roland Garros for the 14th time and also reached Wimbledon in 2008 and 2010 and three other finals, is currently suffering particularly badly from his chronic foot disease (Müller-Weiss syndrome). In Paris, he was only able to play at all thanks to daily injections and a numb foot. Now he is trying a new therapy because he does not want to go through this procedure again in Wimbledon. So there is at least a chance that of the top four, only defending champion and six-time Wimbledon winner Novak Djokovic will be at the start.
And world No. 5 Casper Ruud is anything but a grass court player. He has never won a single match at Wimbledon. The top ten player Andrey Rublev (9) will also not be allowed to start as a Russian. And last year’s finalist Matteo Berrettini (10) has been injured since mid-March, but will play his first tournament again this week at the grass court tournament in Stuttgart after a break of almost three months and an operation on his hitting hand. Whether he can build up his best form within only three weeks remains to be seen. If not, Djokovic’s only possible rivals for the title are Carlos Alcaraz (6), Stefanos Tsitsipas (7) and Felix Auger-Aliassime (8). But back to Alexander Zverev.
Chances are not bad at all that Zverev could return at the start of the hard court season
For the German, Wimbledon is out of the question after his serious injury and the operation, that is clear. In addition, he will lose 75 of his 386.6 points on 1 August, as his Olympic victory will then be dropped from the JFB ranking after 52 weeks. Then on 22 August, 40 points for his 2021 tournament win in Cincinnati will drop out of the classification and at the US Open, as a semi-finalist, he has 35 points to defend. What about the US Open? This is likely to be a key tournament for Zverev, who is still without a tournament win this season after winning six tournaments (!) last year.
For the hard-court season, the chances might not be that bad. Zverev hopes to be able to start training again in four weeks and the French sports newspaper L’Equipe assumes that he will be out for around six to eight weeks. If this works out, things would not look bad at all for the current No. 1 in the world. Let’s take a look at the tournament schedule:
- Week one after Roland Garros (A): the grass tournaments in Stuttgart (E) and ’s-Hertogenbosch (E)
- Week two after RG: the grass tournaments in Halle (D) and London Queen’s Club (D)
- Week three after RG: the grass tournaments in Mallorca (E) and Eastbourne (E)
- Week four after RG: the grass court tournament in Wimbledon (A)
- Week five after RG: the grass court tournament in Wimbledon (A)
- Week six after RG: the E tournaments in Newport on grass and Bastad on clay
- Week seven after RG: the clay tournaments in Hamburg (D) and Gstaad (E)
- Week eight after RG: the E tournaments in Atlanta on hard court, Kitzbühel and Umag on clay
- Week nine after RG: the hard court tournaments in Washington (D) and Los Cabos, Mexico (E)
- Week ten after RG: the Canada Masters (C) on hard court
- Week eleven after RG: Cincinnati Masters (C) on hard court
- Week twelve after RG: Winston-Salem (E) on hard court
- Week thirteen after RG: US Open (A) on hard court
- Week fourteen after RG: US Open (A) on hard court.
So if Zverev has to take eight weeks off, he could get back in just in time for the start of the hard-court season in Washington (D: ATP 500) or at the latest at the Canada Masters (C: Masters 1000) and would then have three to four weeks to get in top form for the US Open. That’s not a lot of time, but it’s not impossible. In this respect, we can only hope that the recovery will be as quick as possible and that Zverev will be fit again by the beginning, at the latest by mid-August.
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