Tokyo 2020 - 'This was the secret' - Why a change of wristbands helped Alexander Zverev stun Novak Djokovic
Alexander Zverev's semi-final win over Novak Djokovic has left his brother Mischa confident he will win gold for his country. "You beat the best player in the world for Germany at the Olympics - it doesn't get any better than that. He has a responsibility on his shoulders that he carries with dignity - and he loves it too.” You want it? We have it. Stream every Olympic event live on discovery+
Huge shock as Zverev dashes Djokovic's Golden Slam hopes to reach final
Mischa Zverev is backing his brother Alexander to win gold for Germany and has credited a switch of wristbands as the secret to his shock win over world number one Novak Djokovic in the men's singles semi-finals at Tokyo 2020.
The Serbian was aiming to be only the second person since Steffi Graf in 1988 to complete a Golden Slam, but saw his hopes dashed as the number four seed hit back to clinch a monumental 1-6 6-3 6-1 victory.
Speaking to Reshmin Chowdhury in the Eurosport Cube, Mischa quipped that it was a patriotic change into German colours that was behind his incredible recovery:
"He was actually down 1-6, 2-3 with Novak Djokovic serving and then he changed his wristbands from the bright pink or red whatever it is, to black and white," said Mischa.
"This is the German colour and I thought ‘now he’s going to turn it around.’ I guess the wristband was the secret in the end."
Why wristbands were 'secret' behind Zverev's comeback against Djokovic - Mischa
Zverev will now face ROC’s Karen Khachanov in Sunday’s gold medal match and Mischa is confident he can follow up this triumph and make Germany proud.
He said: “I think he's going to make it. He is really focused and wants this medal. It's now against Khachanov. He's an unbelievably good player and Sascha has already lost to him. But beating Novak in the semi-finals is a real challenge. When you've done that, you have so much self-confidence. Sascha is two metres tall, but when he goes to the final now, he will be 2.20m tall.”
He added: “That's what we fight for all the time. You beat the best player in the world for Germany at the Olympics - it doesn't get any better than that. He has a responsibility on his shoulders that he carries with dignity - and he loves it too.”
Djokovic looked in control as he followed up an opening set breadstick by breaking for 3-2 in the second. At that point there appeared to be only one winner, but the number four seed summoned something from deep within to produce some scintillating tennis to turn it around and unsettle an increasingly frustrated world number one.
Mischa said: “At 1:6 and 2:3 against Novak you actually pack your things. You know in five minutes you're going to take a shower and then you'll play for bronze. But Sascha fought and played the way he can play. I told him from day one: 'You can be a great one!' That makes me proud.
“Knowing him, he will calm down in 20 minutes and prepare for Sunday. Because the task is not over yet. There is nothing more to train for now. He can't improve any more. He must now regenerate, recover, switch off and de-stress. He must not think about the fact that the gold medal is at stake now, but simply enjoy the atmosphere.”
Mischa Zverev can't control emotions after brother Alexander stuns Djokovic
Asked how he coped with the rollercoaster of emotions while watching his brother, Mischa added: “I can't say anything. It was unbelievable. I cried a thousand times, then I laughed, then I was angry, then I was mad, then I cried again for joy. There was really everything. It was so emotional, it's exhausting. I need a break now. My hands were shaking the whole time. My pulse was at least 160/170.”
The defeat leaves Djokovic facing a bronze medal showdown with Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta. The loss will no doubt leave a deep scar for the top seed, who had admitted he was 50-50 on travelling to Tokyo given the conditions and lack of fans in the stadium.
He decided to compete and although he came up short he can still complete a calendar Grand Slam at the US Open which starts in late August.
Mischa believes the 20-time Grand Slam champion will be ready for that challenge but also feels this defeat will give the likes of Sascha Zverev and the rest of the chasing pack renewed belief that they can stop him.
He said: "Novak can cope well with defeats. He still has the Grand Slam to win with the US Open. That is also a very nice and big goal that he can achieve. But we see now that Sascha can stop him. That's also important for everyone in the tournament field to see that Sascha can beat Novak, even if he plays well.”
Watch every unmissable moment live from Tokyo 2020 across Eurosport, the Eurosport app and discovery+. Download the Eurosport app for iOS and Android now.