NEW YORK – There some hints about this, notably when photos surfaced of Ivan Lendl working with Alexander Zverev for a week down at his Florida home last month.
But even last week in Cincinnati Zverev, while complimentary towards Lendl and his wealth of knowledge, said he wasn’t planning any changes to his team. At least not “right now”, but possibly down the road, he said.
It seems the future for Zverev is … right now.
The new collaboration with Lendl became official Tuesday when Zverev posted it on Instagram.
The two-time coach of Andy Murray has joined Zverev’s team, complementing his regular coach, father Alexander Sr.
Nothing from Lendl directly. But his business associate Jerry Solomon passed this along.
— Jerry Solomon (@JerrySolomon_SG) August 21, 2018
The former champion had said “no” to fellow Czech Tomas Berdych, when Berdych solicited his help a couple of years ago.
Perhaps with Zverev, still just 21, he felt he could have more of an impact.
Or the money was right. Or both.
Lendl sits his way through practice
It doesn’t appear as though Lendl, who is 58, is starting this new collaboration in the best of health.
Throughout Zverev’s hit with Evgeny Donskoy of Russia in the brand-new Louis Armstrong Stadium, he sat – literally, about 99 per cent of the time.
Best guess, from the way he was carefully sitting down: his back was acting up on him (back woes were what essentially ended his career).
Here’s what it looked like.
(Zverev may well have been the first player to officially hit a ball out of the new stadium. He wasn’t in a particularly cheery mood. And Donskoy – who has a wise old sage as a coach in Boris Sobkin – was playing very well).
Lendl wasn’t shy about getting right in Zverev’s face. But it doesn’t seem as though the kid is quite invested in this yet. Or perhaps he’s still a little intimidated. He rarely made eye contact with his new mentor.
Zverev Sr. and Lendl are very close in age – Lendl is actually six weeks younger. Both were born in 1960. They never met on the tennis court, though.
Their official weights when they were players are still listed on their ATP Tour bios. Lendl is at 6-foot-2 and 175 pounds; Zverev Sr. at 6-foot-1 and 177 pounds. But there have been a few good meals since then. 🙂
Can Lendl help Zverev get over the “hump” that’s been created by the weight of expectations, and make a big-time move at a Slam with Lendl by his side?
It worked for Murray. Although the Scott is a completely different human being.
Zverev tried a similar sort of thing with another former No. 1, Juan Carlos Ferrero, a year ago. That one didn’t last very long and ended with Ferrero levying some pointed criticism Zverev’s way.
Perhaps Lendl has the gravitas and stature (and being from the exact same generation as his father can’t hurt) to get his messages across clearly.