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Zverev vs Gulbis ATP Geneva Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Can struggling Zverev find some form just before Roland Garros?

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 21 May 2019
  • Alexander Zverev vs Ernests Gulbis is live from Geneva on Tuesday, 21 May from 6:00pm local time/ 5:00pm BST
  • Gulbis won their only previous meeting at Wimbledon last season
Alexander Zverev. (Photo Antonietta Baldassarre / Insidefoto baldassarrexstaccio).

Looking to find some form before Roland Garros, Alexander Zverev starts his Geneva bid on Tuesday when he plays enigmatic Latvian, Ernests Gulbis in the second round. 

Zverev is coming off a second round loss to Matteo Berrettini in Rome, the latest in a string of disappointing results for the German. Since reaching the final in Acapulco at the start of March, Zverev has won back-to-back matches just once in eight tournaments. That once was in Madrid, where he defeated David Ferrer and Hubert Hurkacz before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas. 

He's had his health problems this year- he played the Australian Open and reached the fourth round despite sustaining an ankle injury just days before the start of the tournament, but he subsequently pulled out of Rotterdam in February because of the problem. Zverev also struggled with a viral illness at Indian Wells, and looked well short of his best in a third-round loss to compatriot, Jan-Lennard Struff. He has not going at all since then.

The 22-year-old failed to cross the first hurdles in Miami, Barcelona and Rome, while he went just one round better in Marrakech, Monte Carlo and Munich. It's a complete departure from the form he showed at the same stage last season, when he had already won the Madrid and Munich titles, and made Masters 1000 finals in Miami and Rome.

Zverev went on to cap a wonderful season with victory at the Nitto ATP Finals- his biggest career title, and one that looked set to usher him into bigger things, but that has not been the case, as the German has surprisingly regressed in 2019.

His poor form has cost him a top four seeding at Roland Garros, meaning the world No. 5 could take on one of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem in the quarter finals- if he (and his projected opponents) gets that far- which is not exactly helpful to his Grand Slam ambitions.

While those ambitions remain very valid, Zverev's most immediate concern is to get a few wins under his belt in Geneva, and rebuild some of the form and confidence he has lost in the last few months. He faces a tricky start on Tuesday against Ernests Gulbis.

Prior to Geneva, Gulbis had won only four matches all season, all within the first six weeks of the year- two in a quarter final run in Pune in the opening week in 2019, and one each in Montpellier and Rotterdam, but he lost six in a row after that, crashing to first-round defeats in Marseille, Indian Wells, Miami, Budapest and Munich. If you add an opening round loss at the Challenger event in Phoenix, and qualifying defeats in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome, he came into Geneva on a 10-match losing streak at all levels.

He has however snapped that poor run in the Swiss city, beating Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2 7-6 to get into the second round.

Gulbis famously reached No. 10 in the world in 2014, the year he made the French Open semi-finals, but he's never really reproduced that level, with injuries and the associated loss of form holding him back severely. He suffered a sharp decline in the next few seasons, ending 2015 at 81st in the rankings, having begun the year at 13th, and finishing the next two years well outside the top 100, dropping as low as 589th in July 2017.

Gulbis got himself back into the top 100 in 2018. He didn't play much, as he competed in only six tour-level meets, but he notably reached the Stockholm final, which he lost to Tsitsipas (it was his fist final since May 2014), and got to the fourth round at Wimbledon, beating Jay Clarke, Damir Dzumhur and Zverev before falling to Kei Nishikori in four sets.

It is his undoubted ability to produce that type of tennis that makes Tuesday's Geneva meeting a particularly tricky assignment for the struggling Zverev. That Wimbledon match from 2018 remains their only previous encounter, and Gulbis will know about Zverev's recent struggles, and relish the chance to score another big win over the No. 5 player in the world.

After all that has gone on in the last few months, the last thing Zverev needs now is a second round defeat at an ATP 250 tournament in the week before a Slam. It will be a big test of his nerve, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn't pass it, but I'm backing the German to do just enough to squeeze into the quarter finals in Geneva.

Alexander Zverev vs Ernests Gulbis is live from Geneva on Tuesday, 21 May from 6:00pm local time/ 5:00pm BST

*Geo-restrictions apply. Streams available to customers with an active balance 

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Zverev vs Gulbis ATP Geneva Preview, Predictions and Live Streaming: Can struggling Zverev find some form just before Roland Garros?

Alexander Zverev begins his Geneva campaign on Tuesday when he plays the enigmatic Ernests Gulbis in the second round.

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