Zverev Books Raonic Clash In Melbourne
Fourth seed to meet Raonic for quarter-final spot
Zverev, the reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion, who fell in five sets to Rafael Nadal (2017) and Hyeon Chung (2018) at the same stage in Melbourne over the past two years, needed one hour and 52 minutes to beat Alex Bolt 6-3, 6-3, 6-2. Zverev hit 29 winners, including 14 aces, to overcome Bolt, who was appearing in the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time.
"There's always things to improve," said Zverev. "But I think I played a good match today... Heading into the second week, I feel pretty good."
Zverev started well, earning three service breaks to move into a one-set lead after 34 minutes. In a tighter second set, the World No. 4 took advantage of multiple forehand errors from his opponent to gain the only break of the set and take control of the match.
In the third set, Zverev won five straight games from 0-1 to edge closer to victory, which he earned on his first match point as Bolt failed to return a 193km/h body serve.
"[It was] unbelievable to play a match on Rod Laver Arena. Growing up as a kid, it's always something I dreamed of doing," said Bolt. "To do it out there, not just on Rod Laver Arena, but with Rod Laver in the crowd, that was pretty special."
"We played twice. Once on clay and once on grass, which were two very different matches, obviously," said Zverev. "He's playing very well. Only lost a set to Stan [Wawrinka] in the tournament so far.
"It's going to be a fun match. Obviously not a lot of rallies, not a lot of long points. We'll see how it goes."
The Canadian No. 1 reached the Australian Open fourth round for the sixth time after just more than two hours, landing 51 winners to beat Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(6). The 16th seed has impressed in his opening three rounds, beating Nick Kyrgios, Stan Wawrinka and Herbert to reach the fourth round.
"I think there are positive things in [my route so far]. I have been pushed," said Raonic. "I have been having stressful moments in matches that I've handled quite well. I think that gives me some ease going into the challenges further along... You don't really know how you're going to pull out when you have those guys [in your draw] in the first few rounds. But I'm happy with the way I did.
"I haven't had the chance to play that many matches over a long period of time now, so to have that kind of test, to prove well in it, I think it's pretty good."
In 2016, Raonic came within a set of reaching the championship match in Melbourne. The Canadian led Andy Murray by two sets to one before eventually falling to a five-set defeat after four hours and three minutes.