Alexander Zverev trials new coaching partnership with David Ferrer
Former French Open finalist David Ferrer now coaching Alexander Zverev on a trial basis.
Zverev and Ferrer are currently in the early stages of a two-week trial to test out the possibility of a more permanent arrangement.
Marca.com reports that Ferrer has travelled to Monte Carlo, where Zverev lives, to work with the German player. If things go well, Ferrer could join Zverev’s coaching team for the European clay-court season, with the Madrid Masters, Rome Masters and French Open all due to take place in a four-week period from mid-September.
It’s not clear whether Ferrer, who has a two-year-old son, would travel to the USA for the upcoming US Open even if the coaching trial goes well.
Ferrer was ranked as high as world no. 2 and reached the final of the French Open in 2013. He retired in May 2019 after persistent injury problems. Ironically enough, it was Zverev who beat the Spaniard in his final match, at the Madrid Masters.
The announcement comes with Zverev under fire for apparently breaching COVID-19 safety protocols. The 23-year-old German was one of the players who took part in Novak Djokovic’s Adria Tour, which was cancelled after players began testing positive for coronavirus. Zverev was not among them, but declared that he and his team would be self-isolating for the recommended 14 days – only for video of him partying in a crowded club six days later to emerge on social media.
He was heavily criticised, with Nick Kyrgios among those calling his behaviour ‘idiotic’ and ‘selfish’, while the director of the Berlin tournament Zverev is due to play from 13-19 July said he might rescind Zverev’s invitation or require him to follow a strict code of conduct while in Berlin.
Ferrer was known as one of the most hard-working, humble and professional players on the ATP Tour, so bringing him on board at this point could be a strategic move to divert attention from criticism of Zverev, who has been slated for a perceived lack of professionalism in the past as well as for his ill-advised behaviour during the COVID-19 crisis.
This is not the first time that Zverev has shown himself willing to add a big name to his coaching team – but his previous partnerships haven’t worked out well.
Zverev worked with Juan Carlos Ferrero, the former world no. 1 and French Open champion who, like Ferrer, hails from Spain. The partnership began in July 2017 and lasted eight months before the pair split after the 2018 Australian Open, with Zverev claiming that Ferrero had been ‘disrespectful’ to his team while Ferrero heavily implied that Zverev’s lack of professionalism was to blame, saying that they had ‘different ideas about how to be a professional off the court’. Zverev’s habit of arriving 20-30 minutes late to a practice session was one of the issues cited by Ferrero.
Ivan Lendl, who won eight Grand Slams during his time as a player and went on to have a highly fruitful coaching partnership with Andy Murray, began working with Zverev later in 2018. The year ended with Zverev’s biggest title to date, scoring back-to-back victories over Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to win the season-ending ATP Finals in London. But the 2019 season was a torrid one for Zverev, who struggled on the court while being mired in a legal dispute with his former agent off the court, and Lendl announced the end of their relationship in July.
Lendl noted that Zverev ‘was still very young’, adding: ‘[C]urrently he has some off-court issues that make it difficult to work in a way that is consistent with my philosophy.’
Zverev shot back that he felt like he wanted more of Lendl’s attention on the tennis court and less on the golf course.
Regardless of his off-court difficulties, Zverev is still considered to be one of the leading lights of the younger generation in men’s tennis, although Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and Dominic Thiem have all overtaken him in the rankings.