Alexander Zverev has revealed that he competed while sick with breathing issues and fever during his 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 loss to Jannik Sinner of Italy in the Roland Garros fourth round. The 23-year-old received on-court treatment by a tournament doctor and he was pictured coughing after his first discussion with the medic while trailing 1-4 in the first set. He later said that he suffered a 38C fever on Saturday night, a possible symptom of Covid-19.
“What can I say? I’m completely sick,” he said in his post-match press conference. “I can’t really breathe, as you can hear by my voice. I had fever, you know, as well. Yeah, I’m not in the best physical state, I would say. I think that had a little bit of an effect on the match today.”
In a statement, the Fédération Française de Tennis noted that Zverev had come out negative in his previously scheduled Covid-19 tests, but he has not been tested in five days. He did not inform the tournament of his ailment before arriving on court.
“Zverev is up to date on his tests, which have all been negative,” said the FFT. “His last test was on 29 September, with results received on 30 September. Today he received a reminder for his next test, to be carried out within five days of the previous results. He did not consult the tournament doctors before his match.”
For Sinner, the result has been a long time coming. The 19-year-old announced himself at the top of the sport last year by racking up wins on the ATP Challenger tour, qualifying for the US Open, breaking into the top 100 and then winning the NextGen ATP Finals on home soil in Milan. Five male Italian players have reached the third round of a slam for the first time in the Open Era and Sinner stands as the symbol of what is to come.
On the court, Sinner’s gifts are instantly clear. He is a clean, destructive ball striker with rare timing, and throughout their fourth round match that doubled as a glimpse into the future, he picked apart Zverev’s defence with glee. In September Zverev reached the US Open final through a series of ugly victories by relying on his big serve and grinding out unforced errors from acres behind the baseline. Against Sinner, that strategy was far from sufficient.
Sinner became the first male player to reach the quarter-finals of Roland Garros on his debut since Rafael Nadal. He will now meet Nadal, who easily beat Sebastian Korda 6-1, 6-1, 6-2. The US Open champion Dominic Thiem survived a scare from the French wildcard Hugo Gaston before reaching the last eight with a 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 6-3 win. He will face Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.