Paris – German second seed Alexander Zverev came back from two sets to one down to reach the French Open third round on Wednesday — only to be defeated by a broad Yorkshire accent.
Zverev beat Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 2-6, 7-5, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 to continue his bid to become the first German man to take the title in Paris since 1937.
But the 21-year-old, who also speaks fluent English and Russian, was mystified when a reporter from the northern English county of Yorkshire wanted to know what it would take for him to finally win a Grand Slam.
“Where you from buddy?,” asked Zverev to the stunned journalist.
“Yorkshire,” replied his inquisitor.
“Nice. If they ever make a tournament there I’m coming just because of that accent.
“Love it. I didn’t understand a word you’re saying.”
The exchange lightened the mood for Zverev who is becoming increasingly impatient of being asked when he will make a breakthrough at the majors to match his impressive efforts on the ATP Tour.
He has a year-leading 32 wins and arrived in Paris with clay-court titles in Munich and Madrid and a runners-up finish to Rafael Nadal in Rome.
But the Slams is a different story.
His best is a run to the last 16 at Wimblesdon in 2017, just a few weeks after he was dumped out of Roland Garros in the first round.
He was defeated in the third round at the Australian Open in January by South Korea’s Chung Hyeon.
“Everybody tries to make a bigger story out of it than it is,” said Zverev who has now equalled his best run in Paris by making the third round.
“I have had great success on the ATP Tour, won three Masters, made two other finals this year. I’m not worried. I know if I’m doing the right things and if I do the right work I’ll win those long matches, and the success will come itself.”
He also recalled a morale-boosting conversation with Roger Federer at the Australian Open after he lost to Chung.
Federer, the record 20-time major winner, reminded him that it took him until he was into his 20s to get past the quarter-finals of a Slam.
Up to that point, an under-achieving Federer faced the same barrage of questions that Zverev is batting back now.
“Hearing that from the greatest player of all time is, you know, comforting, because you always think, Oh, if I’m not going to win this one, I’m never going to win one. And he’s the greatest player of all time,” he said.
Next up for the tall German in Paris is a third-round clash against Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur, the 26th seed, for a place in the last 16.