Australian Open: Successful men’s day in Melbourne: Zverev wins

Yannick Hanfman is now meeting Rafael Nadal in Melbourne. Photo: James Ross/AAP/dpa

Novak Djokovic has to go – the sport is on top at the Australian Open. Four German tennis men succeed at the start. For women, hopes remain on Angelique Kerber.

Melbourne – Without losing a set, but also without the high level, Olympic champion Alexander Zverev reached the second round at the Australian Open.

With 7:6 (7:3), 6:1, 7:6 (7:1), the title candidate won in Melbourne despite the weaker stages of the German duel with Daniel Altmaier. After 2:38, the 24-year-old used his fifth match point and capped the German men’s first successful day.

“You won’t always play your best,” Zverev said after the evening’s performance at Rod Laver Arena. “It was a good match for me to play in the tournament and I hope the next match will be even better.” A lot went according to a plan other than winning.”

Now against Melman

In the fight for a place in the third round, he will face world number three John Millman on Wednesday. Zverev has played twice so far against the Australian, won twice – but at the 2019 French Open, he worked his way up in just five sets.

But Zverev has the biggest ambitions for Down Under: In just under two weeks, Hamburger will love celebrating his first Grand Slam title at Rod Laver Arena. After Melbourne record champion Novak Djokovic was forced to leave Australia, Zverev became the top professional in the top half of the table – and could benefit from the court’s decision against Djokovic.

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In the first meeting with Altmaier, Zverev found the match difficult. Anyone who thought the 2020 Melbourne semi-finalists would dominate the match from the start was wrong. Only in the tiebreak was the top seed in Germany the better player – and deserved to win. Altmaier ranks 87th in the world rankings, surprising him by reaching the round of 16 at the 2020 French Open and now appearing at the Australian Open for the first time.

More German victories

In the second set, Zverev was in a hurry: to make the score 1-0 and 3-0, he took serve matches from his opponent who was a year younger than him. When he made an unnecessary foul and Altmaier cut it down to 1:4, he dropped the racket, but soon after got his next break.

In the third set, the 2020 US Open finalist faced a difficult situation as he received a break and was 3-2 behind. But Zverev avoided a longer tennis evening that could have caused a set loss: he missed three consecutive breakout balls, but tied 4:4 – and characteristically shook his head.

With wins at the start, Dominic Kupfer, who advanced despite arm issues, as well as Oscar Ooty and Yannick Hanfmann provided bright spots. Hanfmann in particular can now look to a real breakthrough thanks to his first victory in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament: a duel with Rafael Nadal will guarantee him a match for one of the top places.

Hanfman cheer the atmosphere

“Last time I said, I’m going there to win and then I get beautiful, and I wasn’t defeated, but I fell a lot,” the Karlsruhe native said, referring to his encounter with Nadal at the 2019 French Open. Maybe this time he says he wants to play “big balls” and “narrow sentences”.

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Smoothly 6:2, 6:3, 6:2 confirmed himself in the first round against Australian Thansi Kokinakis, who has been in good shape recently. “I still have the images in my head,” he said, excited by the atmosphere. “We entered the pitch and the noise was deafening. We looked around and thought: ‘What’s going on here?’” “I felt like I was in the Davis Cup.”

Petkovic disappointed

Andrea Petkovic formed in contrast to the happy Hanfmann. “It’s just a terrible day for me today,” the Darmstadt player said after her steady 2:6, 0:6 performance against Czech French Open winner Barbora Krijkova. “Today was the first day in two months that went like this. But it just shows that the tennis gods never cease to amaze.”

Because Tatiana Maria also lost 4:6, 6:7 (2:7) against Greek Maria Skari despite a good performance, only Angelique Kerber can prevent the women from being completely disappointed. Anyway, there were only three German players on the main field. Kerber entered the tournament on Tuesday.

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