Zverev Digs Deep For Chardy Win; Bolt Saves Four M.P.
Wild card Bolt saves four match points
If Alexander Zverev is to make the breakthrough on the major stage this month, Thursday’s victory against Jeremy Chardy at the Australian Open will live long in the memory. It wasn’t pretty, but the fourth seed found a way to win for a place in the third round for the third consecutive year.
Zverev, who lifted the biggest title of his career two months ago at the Nitto ATP Finals, weathered several momentum shifts in an entertaining 7-6(5), 6-4, 5-7, 6-7(6), 6-1 victory over Chardy in three hours and 46 minutes at Melbourne Park. It was his third straight win in four meetings against 2013 quarter-finalist Chardy.
"I thought the match was very high quality," said Zverev. "Jeremy started playing really, really well in the third and fourth [sets].
"I knew if I stayed strong, if I kept doing what I was doing, [that I would] get my chances. I actually had my chances in all sets. [I just] didn't manage to break. Matches can turn around quickly. I'm just happy to be in the third round."
The 21-year-old German, also with 10 ATP Tour titles to his name, will next play Australian wild card Alex Bolt, currently No. 155 in the ATP Rankings, who continued his fairy-tale run by saving four match points against No. 22 seed Gilles Simon of France.
"I'm happy for him. But in two days' time, I'll be playing him. I'll do everything I can to prevent him going further."
Zverev took a 4-1 lead in the first set, but suffered a concentration lapse in the seventh game. While Chardy saved a set point at 5-6, 30/40, Zverev broke clear at 3/3 in the tie-break to clinch the opener.
Zverev endured few problems in the second set, which saw him break for 3-2 and he saved one break point at 5-4, 30/40. Having dropped to a 2-4 deficit in the third set, Zverev worked his way back, but could not convert four break points at 5-5. Chardy seized his chance to break in the next game, aided by two mis-timed forehands from Zverev.
Chardy dug deep in the fourth set, recovering from 15/40 and saving four break points at 3-3. The pressure shifted to Zverev and closing in on a second tie-break of the match, the German dropped to 15/40 at 5-6. Three set points came and went – courtesy of two backhand errors from Chardy and a forehand winner from Zverev. Two straight backhand errors from Chardy gifted Zverev a match point at 6/5 in the tie-break, but the opportunity wasn’t converted and three straight groundstroke errors cost Zverev.
Zverev's superior conditioning reaped dividends in the deciding set to win the first five games. It dashed Chardy's hopes of a second career comeback from two-sets-to-love down and a first victory over a Top 5 player at a Grand Slam championship. The match ended at 12:15 a.m. local time.
He'll now recover and prepare to meet Bolt, who recorded back-to-back tour-level match wins for the first time in his career after hitting 77 winners past Simon 2-6, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(8), 6-4 in four hours and four minutes. Simon, who reached the 2009 Australian Open quarter-finals, could not convert match points in the fourth set tie-break at 6/4, 7/6 and 8/7.
When asked about his comeback, Bolt said, "I think it was a lot to do with just backing myself, I guess trying to play to my strengths. Obviously, the crowd support was amazing. I feel like they really gave me the energy to get over the line."