Play­ers’ towel habits ‘more of a su­per­sti­tion’ than any­thing use­ful, ad­mits Zverev

Bangkok Post - - TENNIS -

>> LON­DON: Alexan­der Zverev will feel the heat in a group in­clud­ing world No.1 No­vak Djokovic at the ATP Fi­nals which be­gins to­day but you will not see the Ger­man reach­ing for his towel.

The 21-year-old is a rar­ity on the men’s tour where it now seems the ma­jor­ity of play­ers towel down af­ter vir­tu­ally ev­ery point, some­times af­ter a rally last­ing one shot.

The sight of ball boys or girls scur­ry­ing around to de­liver sweaty tow­els on com­mand to ratty play­ers is not an ed­i­fy­ing one and has be­come a bone of con­tention in the sport.

This week at the Next Gen Fi­nals in Mi­lan, play­ers have been forced to fetch their own tow­els from boxes sta­tioned in the cor­ners of the court and while it might be a shock to the sys­tem for some, Zverev sug­gests it is about time.

“I’m prob­a­bly the wrong per­son to ask,” he told a news con­fer­ence at Lon­don’s O2 Arena.

“I think I’ve taken the towel once or twice this year, once in Aca­pulco and once in Wash­ing­ton when it was like 120 de­grees [about 49C] and when it was 150 per­cent hu­mid­ity.

“Maybe need to ask the Next Gen guys. I mean [Frances] Ti­afoe takes the towel af­ter ev­ery point and [Ste­fanos] Tsit­si­pas takes the towel af­ter an ace or dou­ble fault.

“I heard Tsit­si­pas say it’s the ball boys’ job but I think the ball boys’ job is to give you the balls.”

While Zverev does not sup­port many of the new in­no­va­tions at the Next Gen Fi­nals — a tour­na­ment for the best play­ers aged 21 and un­der and which he skipped to play at the ATP Fi­nals in Lon­don, he says towel rails or boxes could be a ben­e­fit.

“I think it would prevent play­ers from tak­ing the towel af­ter ev­ery dou­ble fault, mis-hit re­turn be­cause some­times it gets a lit­tle ridicu­lous in my eyes,” he said.

“Maybe play­ers would then only use [the towel] when they are re­ally sweat­ing. For me [tow­elling] it’s more of a su­per­sti­tion than some­thing which has an ac­tual use.”

Zverev, who opens against Marin Cilic to­mor­row and will also face big-serv­ing John Is­ner, said the shoul­der in­jury that has dogged him dur­ing the Eu­ro­pean in­door sea­son has im­proved.

“I took a few days off and its set­tling now. I’m ready to go again now,” he said.

Last year on his Lon­don de­but Zverev failed to sur­vive the group stage.

Spain’s Jaume Mu­nar reaches for his towel dur­ing the ATP Next Gen tour­na­ment.

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