Alexander Zverev Survives Another Five-Set Marathon at the US Open

Alexander Zverev US Open 2019

If you are watching an Alexander Zverev win at a Grand Slam then you are highly likely to be watching a dramatic and engrossing Alexander Zverev win at a Grand Slam.

Zverev takes five

This was the 15th occasion in Zverev’s short career that he has gone all the way to a deciding set in a Grand Slam. This equates to 27% of all the young German’s Grand Slam matches.

This figure is exceptionally high. This trend makes it very difficult to see how Zverev will be able to fulfill his enormous potential at the highest level until this propensity to make things difficult for himself changes.

Dynamic start gives way to dire middle for Zverev

There was no sign of any struggle initially as Zverev raced to a 6-1 against Moldovan world #41 Radu Albot. It was a tough draw for Zverev and with his Grand Slam record under great scrutiny, having never been past the quarterfinal stage at any slam event, he did well to take the initiative in this match.

The German also took the second set comfortably 6-3 but began to falter after that. It is difficult to say whether Albot improved his level or Zverev took his foot off the gas, but Albot soon found himself 4-1 up in the third set. He went on to take the set 6-3 and then capitalized on an early break to go on and take the fourth too, 6-4 the scoreline.

Focus restored for the fifth set

The benefit to having had 15 matches go to five sets is knowing how to perform in the, usually, mistake fuelled and tense final sets.

Zverev has a good 67% winning record in a deciding fifth set, that improves to 90% if you just take the most recent ten occasions. It would seem that he is able to reapply himself and improve his level when it really matters.

Having said that, there was nothing entirely convincing about Zverev’s fifth set performance, but three breaks of the Moldovan’s serve meant that in the end the match was secured 6-2 in the fifth. The crowd was finally able to cheer an Alexander Zverev win, about two hours after they expected to.

Can Zverev win a Grand Slam with this trait?

For the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer the early rounds are usually good match practice and a way of getting into the tournament whilst conserving energy for the tougher tests to come. Federer will no doubt be annoyed at dropping a set in his opening round match, for instance.

Zverev will know this as well, so it is a real concern at this stage that he consistently allows himself to be drawn into long, epic battles with players that simply aren’t as good as him.

This match against Radu Albot marked the fourth time this season that Zverev has won the first and second set and still ended up playing a fifth set. Yes, he has never been beaten when winning sets one and two but the extra energy expended, both physical and mental, has always caught up with young German so far in his fledgling career.

It is quite a safe bet that Zverev will fall early again at the 2019 US Open unless he can change this cyclical pattern very quickly.

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