Alexander Zverev was made to work hard to reach the second round of the French Open with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 win over Australian John Millman on Tuesday.
The German fifth seed, looking for a major breakthrough on the Grand Slam stage, needed more than four hours to see off the world number 56 and set up a meeting with Swedish qualifier Mikael Ymer.
The 22-year-old Zverev, one of the leading figures of the sport’s ‘new generation’, claimed his best result at a major when he reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros last year.
For a moment, it seemed he could be sent packing on his first day on court. Millman cancelled out Zverev’s early break with the German winning the resulting tiebreak in the opener before sailing through the second set. But Zverev never looked comfortable in changing conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier and he was overpowered in the third, Millman taking the tie into a fourth set with a powerful forehand winner.
Zverev stole his serve but Millman turned it around to force a tiebreak, which he won to take the match into a decider. That did not please Zverev, who destroyed his racket in frustration.
But a timely break in the ninth game of the fifth set had him serve for the match. There were no nerves on display as Zverev ended the contest on his first match point.
Del Potro powers past Jarry into second round
Juan Martin del Potro fired up his power game after a sluggish start to ease past Nicolas Jarry in an all-South American first-round clash at the French Open on Tuesday.
The eighth seed, a semi-finalist last year, won 3-6 6-2 6-1 6-4, the four sets taking a little more than four hours.
“The conditions were difficult at the start with wind and some rain, and Nicolas played so strong, but after that, I took control of the game and played better,” Argentine del Potro said on Court Suzanne Lenglen.
Chilean Jarry, ranked 58th and a finalist in Geneva last week, was a potentially tough hurdle for Del Potro, who is in just his third tournament since yet another injury break, this time to his right knee.
In the opening set Chilean Jarry took advantage of a couple of gifts to break Del Potro’s opening service game and remained solid to pocket the opening set. The 30-year-old Del Potro is not one to panic, however, and when three wayward forehands and then a Jarry double-fault handed Del Potro his first service break in the second game of the second set, the momentum quickly shifted. It was one-way traffic after that as del Potro took charge to set up a second-round clash with Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, who beat American Mackenzie McDonald in five sets.
“I’m just happy to be playing tennis again and to be in Paris after all my injuries,” said Del Potro who has missed a combined three years since 2010, mainly with wrist injuries. “I have great memories here. This tournament means a lot to the Argentine players and the fans. I’m excited to keep winning,” the Argentinian said.