|Zverev survives four-hour marathon, Del Potro battles on| PARIS, May 29: Alexander Zverev survived a bruising four-hour battle to reach the French Open second round on Tuesday while dangerman Juan Martin del Potro also progressed.
Alexander Zverev of Germany plays a return against John Millman during the first round match of the French Open at the Roland Garros in Paris.
German fifth seed Zverev, a quarterfinalist in Paris in 2018, battled past Australia’s John Millman 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3. The champion in Geneva last weekend fired 57 winners past World No. 56 Millman who stunned Roger Federer at the US Open last year.
However, he also committed 73 unforced errors on a blustery day in the French capital.
“John is a tough player who beat Federer so I knew it would be difficult today,” said Zverev, bidding to become the first German man to win the Roland Garros title since Henner Henkel in 1937.
“It was very windy today so that made the conditions very difficult. It was a first match against a great opponent. I got through and that’s all that matters.”
Next up for Zverev is Swedish qualifier Mikael Ymer, the World No. 148 of Ethiopian origin, who marked his Grand Slam debut with a 6-0, 6-3, 7-6 (7/5) win over Slovenia’s Blaz Rola.
“He (Zverev) has very much proven that he belongs up there,” said Ymer, the younger brother of fellow tour player Elias.
“He is definitely one of the best in the game at the moment, so it’s a tough challenge.”
Argentine eighth seed Del Potro, a semifinalist in 2009 and 2018, made the second round with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 win over Chilean World No. 58 Nicolas Jarry.
“I think I’m playing well at the moment, but my main goal is still the knee, my health,” said Del Potro who is still feeling his way back after knee surgery.
Next up for the giant Argentine is a clash against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka. Jarry lived and died by the sword on Court Suzanne Lenglen, his 47 winners almost cancelled out by his 41 unforced errors.
Two-time Grand Slam winner and former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka defeated 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko 6-4, 7-6 (7/4) in a match which featured 13 breaks of serve.
Ostapenko has now lost in the first round in her last two visits to Paris with her wretched performance highlighted by an ugly 60 unforced errors.
Azarenka, ranked 43 in the world, will face top seed Naomi Osaka who got the better of past Slovakia’s Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in her tournament opener.
Japan’s Osaka battled back from a set and a break down to defeat Schmiedlova 0-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-1 to reach the second round.
Osaka, bidding to add the French Open to her US and Australian Open titles, was within a whisker of becoming just the second top seed to lose in the first round in Paris in the modern era after Angelique Kerber in 2017.
Canada’s Bianca Andreescu, the surprise champion at Indian Wells, marked her Roland Garros debut by beating Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.
The 18-year-old, playing for the first time since Miami after suffering a shoulder injury, hit 58 winners and 60 unforced errors in the tie suspended due to darkness on Monday night.
There were also 17 breaks of serve in the match which stretched to over three hours.
Other early winners on Tuesday included Monte Carlo champion Fabio Fognini, seeded nine, who defeated Andreas Seppi in an all-Italian clash, 6-3, 6-0, 3-6, 6-3.
Defending champion Simona Halep started her first defence of a Slam title by beating 47th-ranked Ajla Tomljanovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-1.
“I need to be calm. Just focused on my game. Not thinking about my opponents and not thinking about the result,” said Halep, who was a runner-up twice in Paris before earning the trophy in 2018. – Agencies