Alexander Zverev has told Eurosport that he is hoping it will be a “similar process with me” to the famous injury comebacks staged by Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Speaking to Eurosport before his straight-sets victory over good friend Dominic Thiem, Zverev admitted it has been a real struggle both mentally and physically.
“I’ve missed all this for the last seven months,” Zverev told Eurosport. “It was not an easy time for me. I’ve missed the tennis tour, the tournaments. I’ve missed interviews, I’ve really missed everything.
“I’m just happy to be back on the court and with the best players in the world here. Just to be back in this atmosphere, this air. I’m happy to be back on the pitch. Hopefully, things will start going right for me here again.
“The injury taught me to be more patient and to appreciate the little things. When I walked for the first time, I was happy like a little kid. When I was able to walk for the first time, it felt like I had won the biggest tournament in the world.
“Things you could do all your life were suddenly special to you. That’s the huge difference between after the injury and before the injury.
“When you’re on this tennis circuit, you play 11 months a year and you’re at a new tournament every week, you travel every week. You forget to appreciate that you’re this tennis player in the first place, playing in front of 20,000 spectators in the biggest stadiums in the world, and you’re doing the sport that you love more than anything.
“You forget all that a little bit. Then when you’re out for seven months with an injury where you really can’t do anything, you start to think a little bit about how much you actually miss it. Honestly, I missed it incredibly. After the injury, I know even less about what I would do without tennis.”
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Asked what his goals and ambitions were heading back to the tour for 2023, starting with the Australian Open, Zverev admitted that he was very relaxed about it all and was aiming to emulate Federer and Nadal.
“I don’t have any [goals], I just want to have fun,” he said. “That’s the first goal. For me, it’s still a process. I still have to come back 100%. It’s not like after an injury you’re healthy and you play the same way you did before. That doesn’t work.
“People always say that when Rafa or Roger come back, they are back at 100%. But that’s not quite true either. Rafa came back last year and I think he lost to everybody at the Abu Dhabi exhibition. Then he came back at the Australian Open, won the tournament and played the best tennis of his life.
“It was the same with Roger at the Hopman Cup. He lost to me and didn’t play that well against other players. He found his form at the Australian Open. I hope it will be a similar process with me, that I won’t play my best tennis right away, of course.
“I probably won’t play my best tennis in Dubai at the exhibition either. I hope it will get better with every day and be there at the Australian Open like I want it to be. Hopefully, I quickly find the form I had this year and last year, and maybe find even better form. As long as my foot is healthy, I think I will find my form.”
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