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Jun 14, 2019, 11:31:00 AM

Alexander Zverev loses in Stuttgart against tricky Dustin Brown

Alexander Zverev’s camp may technically have been boosted by the return of Ivan Lendl to his training collective, but it has yet to pay off when it matters most, as he suffered another early exit in Stuttgart.

Many believed that Zverev was in a position to kick off and achieve great things in tennis in 2019, but it seems that the weight of belief came too soon for the young German, who has so far been unable to replicate any of the storming tennis of late 2018 that saw him march to third in the world.

There have been a number of disappointing exits around the world this year, and despite the odd sign of encouragement, it is not looking like he is going to break his hoodoo immediately.

Coming up against his compatriot Dustin Brown in Stuttgart was already thought to be a slippery tie, with his countryman known to perform best on grass, and also to have several trick shots in his locker that are hard to combat.

Brown has been on the circuit for some time, and was pulling off upsets when the likes of Lleyton Hewitt were still playing. He has also beaten Rafael Nadal in the past, so Zverev should not feel too upset, but the risk is that this becomes just another defeat, rather than a huge shock.

The world number five had no answer to Brown’s maverick approach, including several diving shots and aggressive rushes to the net, which culminated in a 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 win over Zverev. Although Brown has pulled off upsets like these in the past, it is the first time that he has beaten a top ten player in two years, when he defeated Marin Čilić in the Montpelier Open in 2017.

Brown has not won in an ATP tournament since the 2017 US Open, which shows what a struggle Zverev is having right now, but also potentially the lack of luck. His opponent fended off an incredible 13 out of 14 break points, and on any other day, it could easily have gone differently.

However, at the same time as earning these break points, he fluffed 14 double faults, which handed the initiative straight back to Brown. He took only nine winning points from 32 second serves, so it is clear where his problem lies at the moment. 

Words: Josh Dixon

Images: PA