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Alexander Zverev battles against Sebastian Ofner at Roland Garros on Sunday.

Zverev Breezes Past Ofner In Roland Garros Opener

Second seed reached semi-finals at clay-court Grand Slam in 2021

There was a smooth start for Alexander Zverev’s Roland Garros campaign on Sunday in Paris as the third seed eased to a 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 first-round victory over Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner.

The third seed’s high-powered serving and forceful groundstrokes proved too much for the World No. 218, who was playing his first tour-level main draw match since the ATP 250 event in Los Cabos last July. Zverev put in a solid rather than spectacular display on Court Suzanne Lenglen, but it was enough to secure a one-hour, 49-minute win. The German improved his match record at the clay-court Grand Slam to 19-6.

“[I'm] very happy," said Zverev in his on-court interview. "Usually I start a Grand Slam tournament with a five-set match and a few hours on court, but Sergi (Zverev's coach Sergi Bruguera) told me today not to do that so I listened to him for once! I’m happy with the match, especially against Sebastian who already played three matches here. He’s playing very well, so I’m happy with the start here.”

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Zverev reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros for the first time in 2021, when he fell to Stefanos Tsitsipas in a five-set thriller. He arrives in Paris this year in fine form on the clay, having reached the final at the Mutua Madrid Open in between semi-final runs at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters and the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.

“I had a very stable clay-court season," said Zverev. "Semis in Monte Carlo, final in Madrid, semis in Rome. But I didn’t win any tournaments. I’m always somebody that likes to win, rather than be stable.

"I’d rather lose first round, first round, first round and then win a tournament, so hopefully I can do that here. Hopefully I can play my best tennis here.”

It was Zverev's second meeting with Ofner at a Grand Slam and a second straight-sets victory for the 25-year-old, who also triumphed over the Austrian in the Wimbledon 2017 third round. The German, who has won five of his 19 tour-level titles on clay, is chasing his maiden Grand Slam crown in Paris.

The tone was set from the opening game in the first-round clash as Zverev immediately carved out two break points on the Ofner serve. Although the Austrian fended them off to hold, he could not repeat the trick in the third or seventh games as Zverev claimed the first set having lost just four points on his own serve.

A solitary break in the second set put Zverev in the driving seat as Ofner failed to make an impact on his opponent. Despite a tighter opening to the third set that saw Ofner strike a series of impressive winners, it was the German who made the first move again as he broke in the seventh game to wrap up the win.

Even when Zverev’s level periodically dropped, the five-time ATP Masters 1000 champion’s serving bailed him out of trouble. The World No. 3 fired 13 aces overall, including a pair to claim the final two points of the match, and did not face a break point.

His second-round opponent will be World No. 66 Dusan Lajovic or Estoril champion Sebastian Baez.

Tallon Griekspoor reached the second round on his Paris debut, upsetting 25th seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 2-6, 6-0, 6-4, 6-3. The Dutchman, who advanced to the quarter-finals in Geneva, will face #NextGenATP American Brandon Nakashima or Pole Kamil Majchrzak in the second round.

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