Zverev sad at ‘coolest dude’ Mur­ray quit­ting ten­nis

Gulf Times Sport - - TENNIS -

Bright­est new kid on the block Alexan­der Zverev said yes­ter­day he was sad to hear “su­per nice” Andy Mur­ray say the Aus­tralian Open could be his last tour­na­ment.

Mur­ray on Fri­day shocked the ten­nis world by declar­ing that his chronic hip pain had not been eased by surgery a year ago and he could end his sto­ried ca­reer in Mel­bourne next week.

World num­ber four Zverev is the flag-bearer for the next gen­er­a­tion of stars, hav­ing beaten Roger Fed­erer and No­vak Djokovic to win the big­gest crown of his ca­reer at the ATP Fi­nals last year.

And he said he would al­ways ap­pre­ci­ate what the 31-year-old three-times Grand Slam win­ner Mur­ray had done for the sport and new play­ers like him­self as they emerge on tour.

“Ob­vi­ously he’s one of the best guys on tour out­side the court. He’s al­ways su­per nice to be around, su­per nice to kind of be in the locker room with,” Zverev told re­porters at Mel­bourne Park.

“The me­dia al­ways kind of puts him as a bor­ing guy who doesn’t give in­ter­views well or some­thing like that. No, he’s ac­tu­ally one of the fun­ni­est and coolest dudes out there.

“We as play­ers, well, you can see how much we re­ally like, re­ally ap­pre­ci­ate what he’s done.”

Zverev said de­spite his stel­lar 2018 sea­son he had lit­tle ex­pec­ta­tion com­ing into the sea­son’s first Grand Slam, hav­ing only ever reached one quar­ter-fi­nal in 14 pre­vi­ous ap­pear­ances at the ma­jors. “I’ve never been past the third round (in Mel­bourne), so we’ll see how it goes,” said the young star who faces Slove­nia’s Al­jaz Be­dene in the first round.

“But I just want to en­joy be­ing here. I just want to en­joy play­ing as much as I can. I just want to en­joy play­ing in the big­gest sta­di­ums, play­ing in the big­gest matches.

“Once I learn how to re­ally en­joy it and re­ally find fun in what I do, I think ev­ery­thing else will take care of it­self.”

World num­ber two Rafael Nadal has en­dured some epic en­coun­ters with Mur­ray down the years and said he had felt for the Brit af­ter his jaw-drop­ping, tearfilled press con­fer­ence on Fri­day.

“Yeah, of course it is very bad news,” said the Span­ish 17-times Grand Slam cham­pion.

“But be­ing hon­est, when you are go­ing on court ev­ery day with­out the clear goal be­cause you can­not move well, you have pain, then is a mo­ment to take a de­ci­sion.” Nadal, 32, gave a heart­felt trib­ute to his long­stand­ing ri­val and recog­nised that with Fed­erer now aged 37 and Djokovic 31, the era of the “big four” was draw­ing to a close.

“It will be a very im­por­tant loss for us, for the world of ten­nis, for the tour, for the fans, even for the ri­vals that have been part of a great ri­valry be­tween the best play­ers for a long time, and a great com­peti­tor. But that’s life. We will miss him. But to­day is him. To­mor­row an­other one. We are not 20 any more.”

Nick Kyr­gios had been one of the first to pay trib­ute to Mur­ray on so­cial me­dia and told re­porters Satur­day: “He’s a leg­end. Some­one that ev­ery­one could re­late to, es­pe­cially my­self. Ev­ery­one knows how sad it is.”

Ger­many’s Alexan­der Zverev plays a prac­tice match yes­ter­day.

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