Alexander Zverev stands firm after Roger Federer and Tim Henman criticise ATP calendar moan
Alexander Zverev defended his stance that the ATP season is too long, despite Roger Federer and Tim Henman both questioning his position.
The 21-year-old moaned the length of the ATP calendar is ridiculous after his defeat to Novak Djokovic a couple of days ago, but Federer retorted that he really cant complain due to the complete autonomy players enjoy over their own schedules and that he needs to be more disciplined with his scheduling.
Following Zverevs win over John Isner to book his spot in the semi-finals, Tim Henman weighed in on the debate during the BBCs coverage and insisted that the Germans complaints would fall on death ears.
This is where I think players can sometimes contradict themselves a little bit, said Henman.
Theyre saying the season historically is too long so they try to shorten the season and then there are a few exhibition events where theyre going to get paid some serious money at the end of the year and then they end up and play in those sorts of events.
So you cant have your cake and eat it. When you hear Federer talk like that, its something hes got absolutely spot on. Hes learned how to prioritise certain events and his injury prevention is done so he stays healthy.
Zverev is a young guy, he say hes tired at this time of year, aged 21, I think thats going to fall on deaf ears. He has to learn how to manage his schedule so hes giving himself the best opportunity to play his best tennis at the best events.
But Zverev expanded his argument further, responding to both Federer and Henmans criticisms.
I havent played any exhibitions this year, he said. If you call the Laver Cup an exhibition, I have played one. Apart from that, I havent played an exhibition this year.
Roger is older, so he has different rules from the ATP. He can skip two Masters Series. He doesnt have to play all the 500 events. I have to play all the four Grand Slams, all the nine Masters events, and I have to play four 500 events outside of that. Actually I even played a 250 event as well.
I also talked, its not about the amount of tennis we play inside of that year, its how long we have off. Even if youre not playing for a week in a tournament, you cant take that week off. You have to be training, you have to be preparing.
Zverev revealed he had spoken with Novak Djokovic about the length of the off-season, and revealed the Serbian world No. 1 has thought the same for the past 10 years.
My argument is always we dont have time to prepare, he continued. I mean, we finish here, we go for a 10-day holiday, then we train for two weeks, then we go to Australia. Thats more my thinking behind it. Its not the amount of matches that we play inside of those weeks, its more about how much off time we can actually have.
Because we cant have off time during the season. We cant say, “Okay, Im going to take two weeks holidays, going to the Maldives in July”. Thats not how it works. You have to be trained, you have to be prepared. Also, the physical part, you cant be doing heavy training during the season. The off-season is the only time you have time to prepare yourself.
If you ask Novak, I had this conversation with Novak, he agrees with me. Hes been thinking the same way for the past 10 years but hes never really talked about it. Now that players are coming through about the subject, hes also more vocal about it.
As I said, we dont have time to prepare, so the body, mental-wise, also we dont have time to give ourselves rest. That you can only really do during an off-season, not when theres other tournaments going on which youre not playing at.
Asked how long the off-season should be, he added: I mean, Ive done it a few times where I ended my season in Stockholm, to give myself two months when I was younger, to build my body. I had four weeks of physical and four weeks of tennis before the season started.
I think if we get that, that is very, very good for us. Like this now, we get two weeks for everything. Obviously we take some holidays, but we need them.
We need the holidays to kind of recover. Having two weeks to prepare yourself, body and mentally for the new season, is not in my opinion enough. If you ask any coach out there, I dont think theyll disagree with me.
Zverev will take on Federer in the semi-finals on Saturday, with Djokovic facing Kevin Anderson.