Zverev: Casper was much, much better than me today

 - Simon Cambers

German No.22 seed admits he was outplayed by the world No.4

Alexander Zverev, Roland-Garros 2023, semi-final© Corinne Dubreuil/FFT

Alexander Zverev emphasised the positives despite seeing his chances of reaching a first Roland-Garros final ended by Casper Ruud on Friday.

One year after suffering a horrific ankle injury in Paris that kept him off the tour for the rest of the year, the German was outplayed by Ruud, who reached the final for a second successive year with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 victory.

But the 26-year-old said he is back on track, ready to compete for the biggest titles again.

“I'm doing everything that I can for it,” he said. “It's very difficult to speak about it after today because today I got my a*s kicked. There is no question about it. I was also not playing the way I wanted to play.

“But that is definitely...my goal. I'm happy that I'm back to where I am so soon after the injury. Normally it takes longer. I was in the semi-final of a Grand Slam. That's very positive. I missed out on a chance, yes, but that's life. We move on.”

Zverev said his level of tennis was getting back to where he needs it to be.

“I think the last two weeks I played exactly how I played last year,” he said. “I think I was kind of back until today. I think today, again, it was difficult for me out there. There is no question about it. But I think the first five matches were great matches.”

Complex comeback

In the six months he spent off the tour, there were many tough moments for Zverev, especially when the German was losing to people he would usually expect to beat.

“Yes, you know you were injured, yes, you know there's reasons for that, but still, you don't want to accept it, in a way,” he said. “That was a bit difficult. I hope now we can move on from that and that can be over. I felt like I played great tennis here until today. It's definitely something that I can build on.”

'Physical issue'

Zverev said he wasn't feeling 100 per cent in his match with Ruud, which limited his ability to match the Norwegian.

“I don't want to take anything away from him, to be honest, but yeah, I had my struggles,” he said. “It's a tough one, because I think he played extremely well. I had one physical issue, which against him you have to run a lot, you have to fight. Like the previous match, actually. Very, very similar.

“I wasn't really able to do that. I wasn't really able to push off my serve much, as well. You know, just everything went his way a little bit.

“At the end of the day, that's how it goes. If I break him maybe in the second set, then the match maybe can turn around. I don't use those kind of chances, and then at some point it's gonna get tough.”

And Zverev said Ruud fully deserved to be on court on Sunday.

“I would have loved to play a final here, for sure,” he said. “I saw it as a big opportunity to play a final here. But he was much, much better than me today. That's the result that there is.”

Casper Ruud & Alexander Zverev / Demi-finales Roland-Garros 2023©Nicolas Gouhier / FFt