Melbourne (AP) – In the first moment of his opening victory at the Australian Open, Olympic champion Alexander Zverev was confused.
With the fifth match point, Germany’s best tennis player had just done his 7: 6 (7: 3), 6: 1, 7: 6 (7: 1) against Daniel Altmaier perfectly. But he did not realize that his performance at Rod Laver Arena was over. Zverev called on a ball to the next serve before noticing the error and rushing to the net for Altmaier.
“I thought it was 6-2 in tiebreak. I thought I lost one point more than I did,” the title contender said with a smile as he showed up to the press conference in an Olympic muscle jersey with the words “Germany” written. on it.
“It was a bit of a strange situation because of that, but then I noticed that the spectators started to get up. When you are on the pitch, you do not actually hear the scoring, you hear the applause from the spectators and the noise,” he explained to Zverev after to have rounded off a successful first day for the German tennis players in Melbourne.
Zverev in round three against Millman
Without losing a set, but also without top form and with weaker phases, third place in the world rankings decided the German duel in his favor. “Not much went according to plan, except I won,” the 24-year-old admitted: “It was a first-round match at a Grand Slam in January – I can not play that perfectly. There are some things I can do better. “
In the battle for a spot in the third round, he meets John Millman on Wednesday. How complicated it is against world number 89. can be, the hamburger himself felt. Zverev played against the Australian twice, won twice – but at the French Open 2019 he only fought his way through in five sets. He immediately recalled the insane victory of Swiss Roger Federer against Millman – in Melbourne 2020.
But if Zverev wants to make his big ambitions for Down Under a reality, the Australian veteran must not stop him: In just under two weeks, the North German would only be too happy to celebrate his first Grand Slam title. After Melbourne record holder Novak Djokovic was forced to leave Australia, Zverev is the top-ranked professional in the top half of the table – and could benefit from the court’s decision against Djokovic.
That’s why the 2020 US Open finalist returned to Center Court after 2:38 hours against Altmaier. Even though it was approaching midnight in Melbourne, he was still practicing on serve.
Altmaier at the Australian Open for the first time
In the first meeting with Altmaier, who was a year younger, Zverev had a hard time getting into the fight. Altmaier is 87th in the world rankings, surprised by reaching the round of 16 at the French Open in 2020 and is now performing at the Australian Open for the first time.
In the third set, Zverev had to endure a difficult situation against the 23-year-old Kempen as he cashed in the break and was trailing 4-2. But Zverev avoided losing the set: he missed three breakballs in a row, but then equalized to 4: 4 – and shook his head characteristically. At 6: 5, three match balls in a row was not enough for him to succeed.
Dominik Koepfer, who advanced despite arm problems, as well as Oscar Otte and Yannick Hanfmann also entered the second round. Qualifying player Hanfmann in particular is looking forward to a real highlight thanks to his first win in the main draw in a Grand Slam tournament: the duel with top star Rafael Nadal secures him a match in one of the top places.
“The last time I said, I go in there to win, and then I was beautiful, not beaten, but pretty much shot down,” Karlsruher said, referring to his meeting with the Spaniard at the French Open 2019. Maybe this time he says that he will play “big balls” and “tight sentences”.
Hanfmann raves about the landscape
Beautifully 6: 2, 6: 3, 6: 2, Hanfmann asserted himself in the first round against the Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis, who was in good shape recently. “I still have the pictures in my head,” he was excited about the mood: “We entered the pitch and it was deafening noise. We both looked around and thought, ‘What’s going on here?’ It felt like the Davis Cup atmosphere. “
Besides Altmaier, only Peter Gojowczyk was knocked out of the men’s tournament on the first day of the tournament. For women, there is a risk of rapid sadness. After Andrea Petkovic’s 2: 6, 0: 6 undefeated performance against Czech French Open winner Barbora Krejcikova (“a terrible day”), only Angelique Kerber can prevent complete disillusionment. Tatjana Maria is already out.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 220117-99-735405 / 17