Antoine Bellanger / Photo credit: JULIEN DE ROSA / AFP 12:00 pm, June 09, 2023

Qualified this Wednesday for the semifinals of Roland-Garros, the German Alexander Zverev (27th in the world in the ATP ranking), suffering from diabetes, must face a new battle without his racket this time. The player must adapt to the rules that prohibit insulin injections during the tournament.

Qualified for the semifinals of Roland-Garros after his victory against the Argentine Tomas Martin Etcheverry, the German Alexander Zverev, must challenge in addition to his opponents on the court, the referees and the organizers of the tournament. The latter refuse that the world number 27 injects insulin shots during the changes rated. An essential gesture, even vital, for the player to overcome his diabetes concerns...

Diabetic since the age of three

Alexander Zverev, diabetic since the age of three, had managed to hide his diabetes from the cameras. It was in 2022, in the daily L'Equipe that the German unveiled his disability to the general public. Asked on Monday evening after his victory in the eighth final against Bulgarian Gregor Dimitrov (29th), the 26-year-old said he was fighting a battle with the organizers and referees of the France International: "On ATP tournaments, it's quite simple (...) I inject my insulin pen during side changes when I feel the need. Here in Paris, if I get off the court, they told me it counted as a 'toilet break.'" Annoyed by the situation, the German told the organisers: "We are only allowed two breaks per match but in a five-set match, I may need four or five shots! It's necessary for my health."

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"I'm putting myself in danger"

During his second-round match against American Frances Tiafoe (12th), Alexander Zverev said he found himself in the middle of a scene of panic: "A supervisor came into the room when I was going to inject myself with a dose and he told me: 'No, you can't do that! We need a doctor!' I told him that it was useless, that we had to control the measures of the excess of sugar."

Alexander Zverev attests that this situation was repeated in the next round during his match against Dimitrov, which particularly annoyed him: "I offered to let me out for five seconds or better, on the court. They said, 'No, it'll be weird...' It does not make a lot of sense. If I don't use my insulin pen, I'm putting myself at risk. They kept saying it was weird." So, the German raised his voice: "What's the problem? Do you consider that I dope?" said the Hamburger. "This discussion didn't make sense."

The organizers defend themselves

The organizers and the FFT defended themselves, justifying that injecting something on the court seemed "weird", especially in front of millions of viewers. These bites are allowed in other ATP tournaments. No bites on the court so but allowed in the toilet, in secret. The physical situation of Alexander Zverev will be to watch during his semifinal this Friday which will oppose him to the winner of the match between the Norwegian Casper Ruud (4th) and the Danish Holger Rune (6th).