Why Alexander Zverev ‘appreciates it even more’ after first round win at French Open

Alexander Zverev tennis

German Alexander Zverev made a successful start to the French Open with a round-one victory over South African Lloyd Harris at Roland Garros on Tuesday.

Zverev beat Harris 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (7-0), 6-1 to mark his French Open return after last year’s painful exit.

He sustained an ankle injury during 2022’s French Open semi-final against Spain’s Rafael Nadal – and retired in the second set. The injury left Zverev sidelined for six months.

“It’s very, very nice to be back,” Zverev said during an on-court interview shortly after defeating Harris.

“I was obviously very disappointed with how that tournament finished for me last year.

“That’s why I appreciate it even more when I play in a full stadium and the crowd is behind me. It was just a lot of fun out there.

“I’m happy that I won in three sets. Normally I start with five-set matches so I’m happy to win in three.”

The 26-year-old Zverev, who has reached two French Open, one Australian Open and one US Open, recently ended a year-long working relationship with coach Sergi Bruguera.

“Sergi is a superb person. I don’t have a single bad word to say about him. He helped me extremely well until Paris last year. I wish him nothing but the best for the future,” Zverev said earlier this month.

“For me, I want to go back on my path and I want to be in this familiar environment again. The different opinions were perhaps a bit bigger than we thought after the injury. Before it was crystal clear how I should play tennis.

“I had confidence and courage on the court and for me it is time to find that back and there are different ways to achieve that. I didn’t see this way for me now anymore.”

Zverev is seeded 22nd in the men’s singles event at the French Open – and will play Slovakia’s Alex Molcan in the second round.

Zverev is the reigning Olympic Games men’s singles champion. He beat Russian Karen Khachanov to the gold medal at the Tokyo Games.

“I’ve won the World Tour finals but a gold medal at the Olympics, the value is incredible because you’re not only playing for yourself, you’re playing for your country. It’s an incredible feeling. There is nothing better than this,” he said at the time.

“I don’t want to talk about the next grand slam right now because I just won the Olympic Games. I want to enjoy this one for two minutes.”

READ MORE: Daniil Medvedev suffers first-round French Open exit to Thiago Seyboth Wild