Shortly before midnight, Alexander Zverev put in an extra shift for his dream of the title. In the almost deserted largest tennis stadium in Paris, the Olympic champion practiced serves after reaching the quarter-finals - and then looked aggressively at the immense opportunity at the French Open.
"I'm in the quarter-finals now, I'm not saying: I'm in the quarter-finals, that's enough, great, I'm leaving now," said the 26-year-old early Tuesday morning with a view to the next task against outsider Tomás Martín Etcheverry from Argentina . "Of course I want to reach the semi-finals and then hopefully go through."
Anger about insulin syringe
Due to the third successful floodlight appearance in the dominant 6: 1, 6: 4, 6: 3 against the disappointing Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, the Hamburg player is now again in the focus of the top contenders. Only one topic angered the former world number two in the press conference more than an hour after the match point. Zverev reported on debates with officials about how to deal with his diabetes.
He was told during the tournament that he was not allowed to inject insulin on the pitch and that going into the dressing room counted as a toilet break. "So I said: Guys, I may have to run four or five times. I only have two toilet breaks. That means I'm not allowed to do a certain thing that's necessary for my life," said Zverev and demanded a clear line.
He was told by those in charge that it looked like he was doing "something weird" if he injected himself on the pitch, as if he were doping. "Yes, you are not very, very smart. I've been diabetic since I was three and a half years old. If I don't inject myself, my life is in danger," emphasized Zverev.
The organizers now emphasized that Zverev could inject himself with insulin on the pitch during the entire French Open. That said a spokesman for the German Press Agency. Should Zverev go into the dressing room for this, do not count this as one of two possible toilet breaks. A video shows that the 26-year-old put an injection in his right thigh in the second set when he defeated Dimitrov on the bench.
Zverev favorite against Argentines
The issue should be resolved against Etcheverry. Zverev also goes into the duel with the 23-year-old as the clear favorite - although he has not yet given a set in the tournament. Before the start of the clay court classic, Zverev said he wanted to "win a trophy in a Grand Slam at some point". Only a year after his serious ankle injury in the same place, there is at least the possibility of his second final in one of the four major tournaments earlier than expected.
Last year's Norwegian finalist Casper Ruud and youngster Holger Rune from Denmark as potential opponents in the semi-finals are not yet scary. Only once - in 2020 at the US Open - has Zverev reached a Grand Slam final and lost to the Austrian Dominic Thiem.
He is now in the top eight at the Stade Roland Garros for the fifth time, more than at any other major tournament. At the Bois de Boulogne he sees himself in the category of the really greats. "It's not that easy here to beat a Novak (Djokovic), a (Carlos) Alcaraz - I'm getting into that group in a way."
Boris Becker warns
His next opponent Etcheverry is still a long way from this category. Before this French Open, the Argentine had reached the second round of a Grand Slam only once at the Australian Open. But tennis legend Boris Becker warns: "It will be a very difficult match. Etcheverry is an Argentinian clay court specialist who will go where it hurts," said the Eurosport expert. "This is by far his greatest success, so Sascha has to be extremely careful and go into the match with the same attitude. It will be more difficult against Etcheverry than against Dimitrov."
With applause and Argentinian football chants, the world number 49. after his round of 16, which he won in three sets against the Japanese Yoshihito Nishioka, at the press conference. "This is the best moment of my life," he enthused. "Of course, the next round will be difficult, Sascha Zverev has a lot more experience than me, but I feel really good playing against him." Etcheverry has been dreaming of a big appearance in Paris for a long time - as a child he wisely christened the family dog Roland Garros.