Alexander Zverev shows “bottomless” tennis in Munich. After the early exit he struggles with his emotions – and apologises. For the Hamburg native, it is the next setback on his number 1 mission.

With tears in his eyes, Alexander Zverev was hard on himself. He described his performance at the tournament in Munich as “bottomless”. “I am sorry. I’m sorry for the spectators, I’m sorry for the tournament,” he began the press conference after his disappointing round of 16 exit against Danish teenager Holger Rune on Wednesday. The German Olympic champion had no chance in the clear 3:6, 2:6. He described the match as “the worst” in recent years.

The Hamburg player alone was to blame for the bitter setback on the way to his big goal of number 1. “It’s not the fault of my fitness coach. It’s not my physio’s fault. If you find an excuse now, you are not the smartest person in the world,” said Zverev dejectedly. The mission Munich triple failed before it really began. Apologetically, Zverev waved to the audience as he walked off centre court.

Zverev: “I was incredibly nervous today”.

After a title-less start to the season, the Davis Cup player had travelled to the Bavarian capital with great ambitions. Instead of his third winning car, there was the next disappointment. “I was incredibly nervous today before the match. First time in Germany in front of an audience in years,” Zverev reported. He still has about a month to find his form before the start of the French Open.

In Munich, Zverev played unusually error-ridden from the start and immediately surrendered his first service game. “I played without a forehand today. I would have lost to anyone in the main draw today,” said Zverev, perplexed and dejected. Especially Rune’s stop balls caused the 1.98-metre tall German considerable problems. Zverev complained loudly on the almost full centre court in Munich and cursed in the direction of his box.

Those of the many German fans at Aumeisterweg who had hoped for a turnaround in set two were quickly disappointed. A forehand in the net, a backhand out of bounds and a volley somewhere in the advertising hoarding – Zverev looked completely unsettled and without ideas in one of his favourite tournaments. After just over 90 minutes, the number 70 from Denmark took the second match point. For Rune it was the first career win against a top ten player. “I really gave my best, even if you didn’t see it on the court,” said Zverev.

Altmaier also fails

Earlier, Daniel Altmaier from Kempen had already lost his round of 16 match. The 23-year-old lost to the seventh-seeded Serb Miomir Kecmanovic 2:6, 4:6. Oscar Otte is the last German in the field of the traditional Munich tournament. The top favourite for the title is now the Norwegian Casper Ruud.