Zverev Off To Clean Start In Melbourne
Let the chatter begin in earnest: Is this where Alexander Zverev reaches his first Grand Slam semi-final?
The 21-year-old German bypassed any first-round drama at the Australian Open on Tuesday, sweeping Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene 6-4, 6-1, 6-4. Zverev faced trouble in the opener when he was broken in the seventh game. But the fourth seed broke twice to end the first set and surrendered only one break the remainder of the match.
"I was a little bit sloppy in the beginning, a little bit sleepy maybe, and the break really was a wakeup call... There really is a lot of good unseeded players here, and [Bedene] is one of them," said Zverev. "I was happy with how I could turn things around very quickly and, after that, the match went well."
Expectations were high for Zverev last year, but they'll likely be even higher in 2019, especially because of how he finished last season. Zverev beat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in back-to-back matches to win the Nitto ATP Finals, the biggest title of his career. He will next meet Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, who battled past Ugo Humbert 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-4, 6-7(4), 7-6(10-6).
"It was a great moment [to win the Nitto ATP Finals] and it really helped, because it's one of the biggest tournaments that we have in the world," said Zverev. "To win it gives you a lot of great confidence to beat those players, because they have a lot of great confidence, as well. I hope I can continue doing the things I have been doing for a while."
Aussie wild card Alex Bolt hit 56 winners, including 22 aces, and eliminated American Jack Sock 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2. The 26-year-old will next play French veteran Gilles Simon, who beat Bjorn Fratangelo of the U.S. 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-2.
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