Two weeks before the start of the Australian Open, Alexander Zverev is still far from his old top form. In his second official match after his serious injury, he suffered another clear defeat.

Alexander Zverev lost his second official match on the tennis tour at the United Cup after a serious foot injury. The 25-year-old Olympic champion lost to Taylor Fritz 1:6, 4:6 in a team duel with the USA in Sydney on Monday in preparation for the Australian Open.

Fritz (25) needed only 64 minutes for his success, the first set even lasted only 21 minutes. Zverev, who was quickly 0-5 down, did not win a point on his opponent’s first serve and only two in the first set on Fritz’s second service. “He gave me a lot of chances,” said the US player.

No chance of advancing

The German Tennis Federation selection has no chance of advancing in the new competition after Jule Niemeier’s subsequent 2-6, 3-6 loss to Madison Keys.

Two days earlier, Zverev had also been far from his former top form in a 4-6, 2-6 loss to Czech world No. 81 Jiri Lehecka. Physically, he was not yet at the level he needed to be, he said afterwards and reported that he had only been pain-free for two or three weeks.

Total prize money of 15 million US dollars

He had made several show appearances before Christmas, beating former world number one Novak Djokovic of Serbia, among others. More than seven months after his serious ankle injury at the French Open and surgery, Zverev faces the first highlight of the new season at the Australian Open (16 to 29 January).

The two wins mean the USA are already through to the next round before Tuesday’s final two singles and one mixed against Germany and will face Great Britain. In six groups of the new men’s and women’s competition, a total of 18 nations will fight for advancement, the winner will be determined in the final on 8 January. The United Cup is also about world ranking points and a total of 15 million US dollars (14.05 million euros) in prize money and bonuses.