MELBOURNE (AFP) - Furious fourth seed Alexander Zverev crashed out of the Australian Open on Monday (Jan 21) but said he "felt better" after smashing his racket to pieces in frustration.
Zverev erupted in the second set of a 6-1, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5) fourth-round humiliation by Canadian 16th seed Milos Raonic, hammering his racket into the ground eight times to leave it a mangled mess.
"Yeah, it made me feel better. I was very angry, so I let my anger out," he told reporters.
And the volatile German was surprised when asked if he had done it before.
"You never watched my matches? You should watch my matches," he smiled.
Zverev was tipped as a future Grand Slam champion after a breakthrough 2018 that saw him win the ATP Tour finals, beating Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer in the process.
Instead, it was a familiar tale of woe as he failed to make the last eight of a major for the 14th time in 15 attempts.
The world No. 4 broke former world No. 3 Raonic's formidable serve at the start of the match, but then imploded to lose nine straight games in an error-strewn disaster.
"I mean, I played bad. The first two sets especially, I played horrible," admitted Zverev, who committed eight double faults and 16 unforced errors against eight winners in the 63-minute duration of the first two sets.
"Yeah, I mean, it's just tough to name one thing (I did well). I didn't serve well, didn't play well from the baseline. Against a quality player like him, it's tough to come back from that."
Zverev left the court to cool off and was at least competitive when he returned for the third set which he took to a tie-break.
"I obviously tried to come back and, obviously in the third set, I started to play a little bit better but, you know, it was a little bit too late already."
But the 21-year-old, widely regarded as the flag-bearer for the next generation, said he would not let another early Slam exit get him down.
"Now I'm not happy, but I'm not depressed either. It's fine. It's a tennis match. I have learnt to take tennis matches as tennis matches and not the end of the world," he said.
"If I would think it's the end of the world, every time I lose a tennis match, I would be very depressed about 15 to 20 times a year.
"So I'm not going to do that."