French Open Betting: The row that might have brought a breakthrough for Zverev

Rafael Nadal
Could Madrid Masters winner Alexander Zverev be he man to release Rafa Nadal's grip on the French Open trophy?
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Alexander Zverev cashed in on Rafael Nadal's shock exit to win the Madrid Open. Ralph Ellis looks at why the German prospect could now be a contender for the French Open...

"The world number three had taken back-to-back titles after beating Philipp Kohl Schreiber in an equally dominant performance at the Munich Open and despite my experience of losing money on him in Melbourne I can’t help thinking he now looks like value for the French Open at [14.0]."

Let's be honest, there are few things we love more in the media than a good row - and the fall-out earlier this year between Alexander Zverev and his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero was right up there.

The young German went to the Australian Open full of optimism that this could be his breakthrough year, the time he finally got beyond the fourth round of a Grand Slam.

I even backed him at long odds in Oz, thinking that Ferrero's influence might solve some of the mental issues that have held back a huge talent.

Instead after leading South Korean Hyeon Chung by two sets to one, he crumpled and went out in the third round - miserably taking just five points in a 6-0 fifth set hammering.

It all ended up in that argument with Ferrero. Zverev accused the Spanish former world number one of turning on his team members - insisting: "If he had an argument with just me that's fine, but there was a moment when he was very disrespectful to my whole team and that's why I had to stop the relationship."

Back-to-back titles

Meanwhile Ferrero hit back with the withering revelation that "I asked him for a little more punctuality telling him it is not correct to arrive 20 or 30 minutes late for training every day."

That was all revealed back in March, and you might have expected that 21-year-old Zverev, known as a bit of a tempestuous personality, would have gone downhill from there without some guidance.

Instead he's flourished with just his dad as his coach again, culminating in Sunday's crushing defeat of Dominic Thiem in the final of the Madrid Open.

It meant the world number three had taken back-to-back titles after beating Philipp Kohl Schreiber in an equally dominant performance at the Munich Open and despite my experience of losing money on him in Melbourne I can't help thinking he now looks like value for the French Open at [14.0].

No surprise that Rafael Nadal remains the [1.54] favourite for Roland Garros, the tournament he's made his own over the years. But I still can't help worrying about his fitness record when it comes to two weeks playing five-set matches, and the defeat in Madrid to Dominic Thiem hinted that he isn't the dominant force he's always been.

Talks with Ivan Lendl

Zverev is now the [9.0] second favourite behind Nadal [1.55] for this week's Italian Open https://btfr.co/143824131 and will be happy that Thiem [19.0] is again in the same half of the draw as the Spaniard.

Zverev has begun the process of deciding whether to bring in another coach to work alongside his father. He's had talks with Ivan Lendl, wondering if he work the same Grand Slam magic for him that he did for Andy Murray.

But in the meantime it seems he's settled again, feeling good that he showed loyalty to the less starry members of his backroom staff in that argument, and that they are working well together now.

The technical bits of his game are in good order. The big serve from that 6ft 6ins frame has proved unstoppable - he faced only one break point in the whole tournament in Madrid. Even his sometimes erratic forehand was full of power and consistency.

At 21 he's been a player tipped for great things for a few years. How ironic if that huge row turns out to be the catalyst to bring it about.

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