There was a lot of laughing and fooling around when Alexander Zverev and his comrades-in-arms on the German Davis Cup team got together in Trier on Thursday afternoon.
Admittedly, the draw ceremony before a Davis Cup game is an unintentionally funny event.
In the end, only one name is drawn – and that only determines the order of the encounters.
There is a lot of fanfare about it.
Even when Germany and Switzerland meet, English has to be spoken by everyone on the instructions of the World Association ITF.
This is not easy for everyone involved.
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The good atmosphere in the German team should still be authentic.
After all, they always existed when this team got together in the past few years.
Whether with or without Zverev, who had already boycotted the final tournament in protest of the radical transformation of the competition.
This time, in the qualifying round, which is more reminiscent of the old Davis Cup format, he's back.
"You could see that the new system wasn't working," he said on Thursday.
"You need the home games, the away games, you need the atmosphere." In Trier, the arena with over 4,000 fans is sold out on Friday and Saturday.
The contract with the Spanish group Kosmos around former football star Gerard Piqué was terminated by the ITF in January.
Another reform is imminent.
This year, however, everything will remain the same again.
The winner of the weekend encounter qualifies for a second round in September.
Oscar Otte opens this Friday with the first single against Marc-Andrea Hüsler.
Then follows Zverev's first appearance against Stan Wawrinka, the star of the Swiss selection.
At the age of 37, he no longer has the class of days gone by, but something that Zverev is still missing: three titles at the Grand Slam tournaments in Paris, New York and Melbourne.
There is a video on the Internet that should confirm the prejudices of many a tennis fan.
It is entitled "Alexander Zverev, the most modest tennis player in the world".
That's biting irony, because the clip contains a good one and a half minutes of interview snippets in which Germany's best tennis player praises his own advantages.
The best backhand on the pro tour?
"Me and Novak maybe." The most powerful player?
"Verdasco... and I would call myself." The funniest?
"Honestly, I'm the class clown." Zverev has always had self-confidence that was pronounced to the max.
As a competitive athlete, this is a strength in many moments.
But there are quite a few who accuse him of being arrogant.
At the beginning of January, before the start of the first Grand Slam tournament of the year in Melbourne, Zverev had such a moment again.
He was asked who was number one in the world rankings at the end of the year.
"I," was his reply.
And even if it was embedded in a joke at the expense of his brother Mischa, it can safely be described as a daring prognosis.
Not because Zverev didn't have the potential for it.
He was already number two in the ranking, he is currently number 14.
In fact, after a seven-month injury break, he is far from in the best form.
He described talking about the title at the Australian Open as "unrealistic" and even "pretty stupid".
He was right, lost in round two against the qualifier Michael Mmoh.
If you take a closer look and, above all, listen, you will notice that Zverev is not necessarily arrogant, but that he always strives for an honest self-assessment up to the pain limit.
This is mostly to his advantage, because his talent in tennis is so great that he is actually capable of the highest goals.
However, he also finds clear and honest words when he falls short of his own expectations.
"Honestly, I've played the best sets here in training since the injury," said Zverev in Trier.
"It remains to be seen whether I can bring that onto the pitch tomorrow."
The way back to old form is long, Zverev had to experience that painfully.
In the semi-finals of the French Open, he had delivered a terrific fight to the great clay court king Rafael Nadal in his kingdom before twisting his ankle and tearing seven ligaments in his right foot.
Because bone edema had also formed, a first comeback attempt failed.
Zverev really wanted to play the Davis Cup intermediate round in his hometown of Hamburg in mid-September.
He overdid training.
The pause grew even longer.
Now he feels "wonderful" after many "weeks of hard training".
Especially since a dark cloud that has weighed on his career for the past two years has at least cleared up a little.
ATP announced earlier this week that it had dropped the investigation into domestic violence allegations made by a former girlfriend due to lack of evidence.
"I can't do more than I did to prove my innocence," said Zverev.
"I'm glad I can end this chapter now." The mood is good this Davis Cup weekend in Trier - at Zverev and in the German team.