Alexander Zverev’s return to the big tennis stage was successful after a fierce performance. Seven and a half months after his serious ankle injury, the Olympic champion beat Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas at the Australian Open after more than four hours 4: 6, 6: 1, 5: 7, 7: 6 (7: 3), 6: 4. In the second round, the 2020 semi-finalist will face Michael Mmoh (USA) or Laurent Lokoli (France).
Zverev was still far from his best form, but with strong nerves he prevented his first defeat in Melbourne since his debut in 2016. He also broke the spell and secured the first win after seven German opening defeats. Jan-Lennard Struff had previously been beaten by the favorite American Tommy Paul 1: 6, 6: 7 (6: 8), 2: 6.
The 32-year-old, who had qualified for a place in the main draw, lost his opening match on Tuesday against the American Tommy Paul 1: 6, 6: 7 (6: 8) and 2: 6. Struff was eliminated in the first round for the eighth time in his ninth participation in Melbourne. All six German tennis pros who started had already failed at the opening hurdle on Monday.
Meanwhile, Andy Murray has proven that he can still do it: The 35-year-old Scotsman defeated the Italian Matteo Berrettini in a crime thriller over 4:49 hours. The three-time Grand Slam winner prevailed 6: 3, 6: 3, 4: 6, 6: 7 (7: 9), 7: 6 (10: 6) and received great applause from the fans in the Rod Laver Arena.
“I’ve invested a lot of work in the past few months to be able to play matches like this. It’s paying off now,” said Murray, who has been playing with an artificial hip since 2019. Berrettini, 2021 finalist in Wimbledon, on the other hand, is still waiting for his first Grand Slam triumph.
It was worse for the Austrian Dominic Thiem than for Murray, who is still looking for the form of earlier days. For the US Open winner of 2020 it was over in the first round, the 29-year-old clearly lost to the Russian Andrei Rublev 3: 6, 4: 6, 2: 6.
After his narrow final victory in New York against Alexander Zverev, Thiem reached the round of 16 again in Melbourne in 2021 – since then he has not won a major.
He was out for months due to a wrist injury, among other things – and was way down in the rankings. After his comeback last year, however, he recently fought his way back into the top 100. He was unable to take the opportunity to climb further in Australia with the help of a wildcard. Rublev was too strong for that.