Almanac Tennis: Novak Djokovic v Alexander Zverev: What the Commentators Won’t Say

On Friday night in New York City – Saturday morning, AEST – the commentators will regularly tell you that Novak Djokovic only needs to win his semi-final and the final of the US Open to become the first male player to win the Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969. If he is successful, he will also become the first man to win 21 major tournaments. It would be an extraordinary, generational achievement.


On Friday night in New York City – Saturday morning, AEST – the commentators are unlikely to tell you that Djokovic’s opponent Alexander Zverev has been accused of abusing his ex-girlfriend Olga Sharypova both physically and mentally.


The allegations came to light in November of last year in Racquet magazine, and the second-part of tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg’s piece was released in Slate last month. For those who are willing to read about such things, the links are at the bottom of this article – but be warned that it is not pleasant reading.


Zverev is not an unknown in world tennis. He is one of three players to have won four titles on tour this year. He was the runner-up at last year’s US Open and won the Gold Medal at the Tokyo Olympics last month. During neither of those events did the Australian commentators mention the allegations against him.


In late 2019, Zverev was the young gun who was asked to join Roger Federer on an exhibition tour where they played to packed stadiums in Latin America. He signed up with Team8, a management company co-founded by Federer that has since distanced itself from Zverev. When asked by Rothenberg about Team8’s response, Federer’s replied “Look, Sascha is a great guy. I’m really happy for him when he does well … and all of the allegations, that’s super private stuff that I really don’t want to comment on.”


The people who broadcast tennis have tried to keep the domestic abuse allegations against Zverev away from the public eye. They have also done the same with similar allegations against former World number 16, Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili. 


But if the commentators yet again do not raise the allegations while you’re watching on Saturday morning Australian time, at least you know what Olga Sharypova said Zverev did to her.


For in a post-#metoo world, women who accuse men of such abuse deserve to be heard. Even, or especially, when a once-in-a-generation event is on the line.


Read Olga Sharypova’s account of the accusations can be read in the following links. 1: Olya’s Story:  2: “Every Day, I Was Crying”:



The Tigers (Covid) Almanac 2020 will be published in the coming weeks. It will have all the usual features – a game by game account of the Tigers season – and will also include some of the best Almanac writing from the Covid winter.  Pre-order right now HERE



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About Edward P. Olsen

EPO is equally passionate about sport and sports writing. While others toil away at the local indoor sports centre re-living their futile childhood dreams of being one of the best of all time, he types away at home re-living his futile childhood dream of being one of the world’s great columnists.


  1. Thanks for these very important comments, Edward.

    I don’t think it is good enough for the tennis circus to hide from this issue.

    “Adidas did not respond to requests for comment” Unbelievably weak, for a company which touts equality etc. What a disgrace.

  2. He’s been accused. Accused only? Has it progressed beyond allegation? Is there a police charge? A police report? This is very slippery territory. And dangerous. For everyone. Broadcast allegations that are proven wrong make it so much harder for other abuse cases to break through the noise. (not saying the allegations are wrong here, but from what you’ve said they’re not proven).

    I don’t think its the place for commentators to be making remarks. I think its the place for the police to do their job.

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