From his home in Javea, David Ferrer has been keeping a close eye on the matches Alexander Zverev has played at the US Open.
Having begun his coaching role with the German just a few months ago, the former No. 3 in the FedEx ATP Rankings has been working remotely and will join Zverev on the ATP Tour for the European clay swing. But right now, the priority is Zverev’s US Open semi-final encounter against Pablo Carreno Busta.
“Before matches we send each other messages or we talk to plan the tactics a little,” Ferrer told ATPTour.com. “He’s in the semi-finals, so he’s very happy in that respect because he has come through some difficult situations. Without playing his best tennis, he does so much damage just with his serve. Now he has to step up and play better.”
After defeating Ferrer in the Spaniard’s final ATP Tour match at the 2019 Mutua Madrid Open, Zverev repeatedly showed an interest in having the Spaniard on his bench. The pair clicked during the time they spent together as rivals on the ATP Tour, opening the door for their current professional relationship.
”The key was that he called me personally, three times,” said Ferrer. “That means he wanted to find out about the way I work. In that respect, it got my attention. I’d had offers, but from various agents, second hand. I really liked that he called me personally.
”He’s a player with a lot of room for growth and I thought it seemed like an interesting experience and motivation. I was really excited to work with a foreigner. Discovering another way of working excites me, to grow and find out about a working method other than the Spanish one.”
Zverev Clears Mental Hurdles For More Grand Slam Success
In July, Ferrer travelled to Monte Carlo to work with Zverev and try things out together for two weeks. After those days of training, the Spaniard became the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion’s new coach, with both of the stars wanting to start their new venture and build on the good performances they had produced in Monaco.
“I tried it to see what his daily routine was like and I liked it,” said Ferrer. “They really let me do my work, both his team and his father. They treated me very well. Everyone agreed with my ideas, what I wanted in terms of tennis with Sascha. And most importantly, he did, which is what I care about.”
Zverev will be looking for many things in Ferrer, but one of them will be experience. The Spaniard played in numerous high-profile matches throughout his career. Ferrer won the 2012 Rolex Paris Masters, finished as a runner-up at Roland Garros in 2013 and reached six Grand Slam semi-finals. Those moments are worth their weight in gold to the German.
“It’s something that I would’ve liked to have [had] when I was a player, someone with that experience to convey to me,” said Ferrer. “It’s something that gives you real peace of mind. A lot of the time, you put yourself in their shoes and you try to explain that you have already been there.
”The fact that someone has experienced that can help the player. I try to give Zverev examples of situations that I’ve been in, good things or bad, and my way of handling those moments. Then, he has to choose what’s best for him.”
Despite having won the 2018 Nitto ATP Finals and three ATP Masters 1000 events, 23-year-old Zverev has a long road ahead of him. The room for growth and progress is what attracted Ferrer from the start.
“He has a lot of room to improve, despite having won the Nitto ATP Finals, Masters 1000s… He can grow even more to be No. 1 or win a Grand Slam. That attracted me,” said Ferrer.
“When you’re with a player that has already given everything, that cannot improve, the days are more monotonous. Regardless of whether I’m there or not, Sascha is a player who works very well and who will be at the top for many years without a doubt.”
Ferrer, of course, is aware of the chance that has arisen this week at Flushing Meadows. A new Grand Slam champion will be crowned for the first time since Marin Cilic’s triumph at the 2014 US Open. Zverev is among the contenders and he will be preparing as well as possible to make the most of the opportunity and claim his first major crown.
“There’s more pressure for everyone,” said Ferrer. “It’s a chance for the four that are in the semi-finals. The one who best manages that pressure will have the chance to come out on top.
”In the end, our [relationship] is a long-term occupation, regardless of whether or not Sascha reaches the final of the US Open or ends up winning the title. We’re working so that he has more weapons and can win many things.”