Alexander Zverev’s terrible run of form showed no signs of abating Tuesday after the German surrendered meekly to Canada’s Denis Shapovalov 6-2, 6-2 in the ATP Cup’s third round.
Canada won the tie in Brisbane 2-1 to keep alive their hopes of reaching the inaugural event’s quarter-finals after Shapovalov teamed with Felix Auger-Aliassime to win the deciding doubles rubber.
The pair edged Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) in a high quality match.
Shapovalov cruised to his win in just 70 minutes to level the tie after Jan-Lennard Struff had earlier got Germany away to a winning start with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Auger-Aliassime.
Zverev needed to beat Shapovalov to keep Germany in the hunt for a quarter-final spot in Sydney later this week.
But Shapovalov took control from the outset against an opponent whose serve was misfiring and whose body language suggested a player badly out of form, with less than two weeks before he appears at the Australian Open.
It was Zverev’s third straight loss at the ATP Cup.
He fell to Australian Alex de Minaur in three sets in the first round before suffering a comprehensive 6-1, 6-4 loss to Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday.
The world number seven conceded he had major problems ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year.
His serve has been especially poor this week. He made only 54 percent of his first serves against Shapovalov and 45 percent against Tsitsipas, while he has served 31 double faults in the three matches and won just 30 percent of points on his second serve.
“Generally I’m not playing good, so there’s a lot of things that I still need to improve, but it’s the start of the season,” Zverev said.
“The first match I actually thought I played okay — the serving was horrible — but then I played two very bad matches, but what can I do?”
With Germany failing to reach the quarter-finals, there is no chance for Zverev to get any more match practice before the Australian Open, with the German confirming he would not ask for entry into any of the lead-up tournaments next week.