Zverev Feeling Positive Despite Loss To Nadal
But for the second time in the past 11 months, Nadal rallied to come back against Zverev, sending the #NextGenATP star home after a 4-6, 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2 win that lasted more than four hours.
Zverev, however, felt positive about the performance. “Even now I'm disappointed, but I know that this was a great match. That was a great fight. There are a lot of positives in this match. I think he's probably one of the fittest tennis players in the history of the game,” Zverev said. “Obviously I wanted to win. I could have won. It's disappointing. But I'm fine actually.”
Zverev was trying to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time. The 24th seed was also looking to earn his fourth consecutive win against a Top 10 opponent. In September, he beat then-No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and then-No. 9 Tomas Berdych en route to his first ATP World Tour title at the St. Petersburg Open. Two weeks later, Zverev outlasted then-No. 10 Dominic Thiem at the China Open in Beijing.
Zverev had been even closer to beating Nadal last year at the BNP Paribas Open, the first meeting of their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry. Zverev held a match point against Nadal but eventually fell 6-7(8), 6-0, 7-5 to the left-hander from Mallorca.
“I am close. I kind of showed it a few times last year, and this now,” Zverev said. “We played for over four hours. It was not an easy match. There are a few things here and there I could do better. All in one, I think I'm pretty happy with my performance.”
Reaching the third round is Zverev's best result Down Under. He fell in the first round to Andy Murray last year during his main draw debut. In 2015, Zverev lost in the first round of qualifying.
The 6'6” right-hander figures to be a top contender at another big event this season, the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 7-11 November in Milan, Italy. The top seven players in the Emirates ATP Race To Milan will qualify; the eighth player will be chosen by wild card.
“I absolutely love tennis. I absolutely love the process. It's exciting for me,” Zverev said. “I think I can see how I'm getting better. I can see how I'm getting better in five sets. It's exciting. I think it's going to be an exciting year for me.”