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Zverev Got Pep Talk from Federer after Heartbreaking Loss to Chung


One benefit of a heartbreaking defeat at the Australian Open for 20-year-old Alexander Zverev? An impromptu conversation with Roger Federer to put things in perspective.

More: Chung Rises to Zverev Challenge on Day 6

That’s what happened at Zverev after his five-set loss to Hyeon Chung on Day 6. He ran into the 19-time major champion in the locker room and got an instant pick-me-up.

Federer, who had difficulties of his own at the majors in his younger days (believe it or not). Federer needed seven majors to reach the last eight for the first time, and he needed 16 before he got past the quarterfinal round and won his first major at Wimbledon in 2003 at the age of 22.

“I mean, he's still very young, still up-and-coming to some extent,” Federer said. “He's still seeking the breakthrough on the Grand Slam level. I just think it's important to sometimes take a step back and actually see the good things you've done, give yourself time, maybe set the bar a bit lower. First let's maybe try to look for a quarters or a semifinals, not just right away think coming to the Australian Open, US Open, ‘I have to win this thing.’”

Zverev has now gone 11 majors without reaching a quarterfinal, and he’s failed to reach the second week at all but one major. But the 20-year-old is now firmly inside the ATP’s Top 10 at No.4 in the world, and his time is surely coming. Perhaps these early frustrations at majors will make him even stronger down the road.


It happened to Federer.

“I know people talk, but for the player, it's not easy if you've never been there,” Federer said. “I remember I had a hurdle to pass the quarters. I only did that back in 2003 for the first time. I was 22. Either I played quarters or I lost first round. That's what I told Sascha. I said, ‘Be patient about it. Don't put yourself under unnecessary pressure. Learn from these mistakes. Whatever happened, happened.’”

Federer says it’s more about believing in the process and funneling out the noise that comes from media expectations.

“Unfortunately you have to believe in the process you're right now in. You had a good off-season. You're working hard. You're doing the right things. It's maybe not paying off at the slam level, but just stay calm, don't dig yourself in a hole.”

Federer says the German looked to be taking it hard when he saw him and decided to step in and offer some kind words. “He looked crushed when I saw him,” he said. “I gave him a tap on the shoulder and said, ‘C'mon, it's not too bad. It could be worse.’”

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