Alexander Zverev can only hope that after the round of 16 he doesn’t have to answer the question he once asked his brother Mischa. “How can you lose to him?”
background of the story that Mischa Zverev at Eurosport told is the defeat he suffered in October 2019 against Bernabé Zapata Miralles.
So against the man who now wants to block the way for the younger Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of Roland-Garros. It is an opponent about whom relatively little is known, who has never been in the top 100 at the age of 25 – and who is writing his own tennis fairy tale in Paris.
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So what does the ideal preparation look like?
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After all, Zverev can rely on the expertise of his coach Sergi Bruguera. “Sergi knows him and will analyze a few of his matches,” he said Olympic champion in the Eurosport interview. What can be said and what makes things dangerous: Zapata Miralles is a clay court specialist. He has won his three titles so far – all at Challenger level – on the red surface.
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What is also certain: the self-confidence of Zapata Miralles is at the limit. “He’s on a roll, playing the week of his life. You have so many emotions and so many positive things in you,” Zverev is aware that he has to show the man on the other side of the net the limits as early as possible in the match. Even if he is “only” listed at position 131 in the world rankings and had only won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam event before this French Open.
But now Zapata Miralles has got a taste for it. After three victories in qualifying, the professional from Valencia beat a player from the top 15 in the world for the first time in round two: Taylor Fritz.
Zapata Miralles ‘in shock’ at success
“I’m trying not to think too much about being in the round of 16. I’m still exhausted and in shock,” admitted Zapata Miralles after bringing down John Isner in round three. After the French Open, the 25-year-old is likely to break into the top 100 in the ATP ranking. “It’s a dream,” the qualifier marveled at himself.
Whether these performances, the question of whether Zverev can lose against Zapata Miralles is no longer so far-fetched. In any case, the Olympic champion has been warned and reminded his brother Mischa that the Spaniard “is playing better now than a good two years ago at a challenger in the hall in Hamburg”.
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