NEW YORK — Seems fair to conclude that No. 4-seeded Alexander Zverev found his 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (1), 7-6 (4) upset loss to Borna Coric in the U.S. Open’s second round Wednesday night rather, well, upsetting.
“It’s upsetting. Today was upsetting,” Zverev said. “The way I played was upsetting. The tournament so far is upsetting for me.”
The 20-year-old German is the highest-ranked man to exit Flushing Meadows so far and what bothered him so much was not merely that he didn’t play well but that there was a real opportunity for him to have a true Grand Slam breakthrough.
He was all too aware of that.
Because of the injury withdrawals by past champions Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka, Zverev was the highest-seeded man on the bottom side of the U.S. Open bracket.
“It’s upsetting because the draw is pretty open in the bottom part. I felt like I should have been the favoured there,” Zverev said. “You know, I just played a very, very bad match, so it’s unfortunate. But that’s how it is.”
He is widely considered the Next Big Thing in the sport, by virtue of his success outside of the majors: He has won five titles in 2017, including a pair of Masters tournaments.
That includes a victory over Roger Federer in the final of a hard-court event at Montreal this month.
“I know that I could have done some big things here. I know that I could have done something that I haven’t done before,” Zverev said. “But I won’t. It’s just as simple as that.”
His Grand Slam record is not as impressive as what he’s shown at lesser tournaments. He has made it as far as the fourth round at one of the four most prestigious sites in tennis only once, losing at that stage at Wimbledon in July.
Not that long ago, the 61st-ranked Coric was being spoken of in the same expectation-filled tones as Zverev.
Coric is only about five months older, and he actually beat Zverev in two previous encounters — in the U.S. Open junior event when they were 16, and at a professional tour event when they were 18.
Zverev’s analysis of what went wrong this time: “I just played very, very bad in the second and third set. I should have won the third. I definitely should have won the fourth.”
Toward the end of his news conference, Zverev — whose older brother, No. 23 Mischa, did make it to the third round in New York by eliminating Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 7-5 — was asked what he would need to happen for him to consider the rest of this season a success.
That did not go so well.
“I just lost (in) the second round of a major where I shouldn’t have lost,” he replied, “so I’m not thinking about the rest of the year.”