Alexander Zverev has certainly not been one of the most popular sports personalities among Germans.
The tennis professional polarizes.
With his behavior on the pitch and with the one next to it.
His enormous self-confidence can also be interpreted as arrogance.
His private life was turbulent and at times painted a questionable picture of his character.
In addition, his talent and his athletic class are undisputed.
But at the crucial moment he was too often lacking in consistency.
There are many doubters and critics.
In Tokyo, however, Zverev has achieved amazing things.
And that doesn't just mean his Olympic victory, the first ever to be won by a German tennis player in an individual.
The 24-year-old played his way into the hearts of the German sports public.
From day one he embodied the Olympic spirit, the spirit of the Games.
He took up the role as a member of "Team D", he enjoyed the meager life in his tennis flat in the Olympic village.
He liked to play for a medal “for all of Germany”, as he emphasized.
Zverev would have preferred to take part in three competitions for his country.
In singles, doubles and mixed.
Just because Angelique Kerber had to miss the games due to injury, nothing came of it.
A league of sports celebrities
Zverev's sweeping success in the semifinals against Novak Djokovic, for whom he blocked the path to the "Golden Slam", will ultimately be one of the outstanding German Olympic moments at these games. The final victory on Sunday against the hopeless Russian Karen Chatschanow was only the refinement of this work of art. Zverev's victory over the Serbs has cleared up the fairy tale that he always draws the short straw against the really greats of his guild on the really big stages. He finally catapulted him into the A league of German sports celebrities.
It was the flaw of his career, which got off to a flying start at a young age, that Zverev had not yet won any of the big titles. Even the triumph at the 2018 ATP Finals hadn't changed that. The season finale of the eight best of the year is indeed prestigious in tennis circles. Nevertheless, the success went under in the general public. Zverev also noticed that. He then parted noisily with his manager. He wanted to build him up as an international star, but almost completely ignored his home country.
Zverev announced at the beginning of the year that it wanted to be more present in Germany in the future. An example. One that makes children want to start playing tennis. He laid the foundation for this with the triumph in Tokyo. With a not necessarily expected gold after a week, which from a German point of view was rich in medals, but also rich in broken hopes. And in a sport in which the passion for the Olympics is not exactly a matter of course. Zverev has gained a lot of sympathy as a result. He's still not “Everbody's Darling” - but it certainly sparked a bit.