Alexander Zverev admits he is still on “cloud nine” after winning gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but is “extremely hungry” for more success.
The 24-year-old claimed the biggest title of his career as he upset Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals and then beat Karen Khachanov in the final to win a gold medal for Germany.
It was the third tournament that Zverev has won this year, but he is still yet to win a Grand Slam. The closest he came was at last year’s US Open when he blew a two-set lead in the final against Dominic Thiem.
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Ahead of his return to action at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati this week he says he is determined to build on his Olympic victory.
“Am I still on cloud nine now? Yeah, a little bit,” said the world No 5.
“Winning that medal is the biggest thing that can happen in any sport, because the Olympics are very special. You're not only competing for yourself, you're competing for a lot of people.
“It is a very special feeling. But I've got to get back to playing so I've got to forget that feeling a little bit and I've got to start working again and start competing again. I am extremely hungry. I'm not satisfied yet."
Zverev has not enjoyed any success at the Western & Southern Open in the past, failing to win a match in six previous appearances.
Last year he was beaten in his opening match by Andy Murray, who starts his campaign against Richard Gasquet on Monday.
“I’m happy to be here,” added Zverev. “I'm happy to hopefully change how Cincinnati has usually gone for me. I’m looking forward to competing and proving that I'm still one of the best players.
“Yes, I know that I'm having a pretty good year, so I am extremely happy with that, but there is a Masters coming up and there is a Grand Slam coming up. Those are two very important and big tournaments.”
Zverev has a 33-11 record in 2021 and has won titles in Acapulco and Madrid as well as Tokyo. He will face either Lloyd Harris or Yoshihito Nishioka in his opening match.
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“I think it's great to see the crowd back,” said Zverev. “It's great to see that life is slowly going back to normal. I think a lot of people have missed that.”
Daniil Medvedev will be the top seed in Cincinnati and will be looking for back-to-back Masters titles after victory at the National Bank Open in Toronto..
Like Zverev, Medvedev is yet to make his Grand Slam breakthrough. The world No 2 made the final of the US Open in 2019 and final of the Australian Open earlier this year.
“The way I played, the way I fought and the way I won a few of these matches gives me a huge boost of confidence for next tournament,'' said Medvedev after beating Reilly Opelka to win in Toronto.
“But again, confidence is such a thing you can get it quite fast but you can lose it very fast also so I'm just going to try to build up on it and keep it at least for the US Open series.”
The US Open starts in New York on August 30.
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