Alexander Zverev wanted no reminding of the final time he performed John Millman at a grand slam. “5 and a half hours, 5 units – he’s a really troublesome participant to beat,” he mentioned earlier than his second-round match in opposition to the Australian.
That match was the third spherical at Roland Garros in 2020, when the then 89th-ranked Millman rallied from two units down and pushed him to 5 stanzas in a thriller that pissed off Zverev to the purpose of smashing his racket on to the bottom.
Loads has occurred since then. That very same yr Zverev made his first first slam closing on the US Open. In 2021 he climbed again up to world No 3, gained Olympic gold after which the ATP Finals, beating the one two gamers ranked larger in Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev. With Djokovic gone from his facet of the draw and Medvedev safely on the opposite, the 2022 Australian Open might but be the German’s match.
Getting there’ll very a lot depend upon the extent of consistency for which the 24-year-old is understood however considerably lacked in his opening match at Melbourne Park. On Wednesday evening it faltered once more solely to return simply in time to keep away from one other marathon with the favored native up the opposite finish and end the match 6-4, 6-4, 6-0.
“My tactic right now was to hit the ball as gradual as attainable,” Zverev mentioned in a post-match interview with the Australian wheelchair tennis champion, Dylan Alcott. “That was my mindset going into the match, however hopefully I can hit it even tougher subsequent match and tougher the following match after that.”
Alcott, who himself gained the Paralympic males’s singles gold in Tokyo 2020 on his approach to a golden slam, requested Zverev the place he retains his medal and acquired an surprising response.
“That’s truly a very good query as a result of my brother took it for a media look,” Zverev mentioned. “He didn’t give it again to me but. I don’t know the place it’s for the past 5 months. Hopefully he hasn’t offered it on eBay or one thing.”
Millman, for his half, gave a completely first rate account of himself till the third set, the world No 89 matching his counterpart eight years his junior in an exhibition of impeccable groundstrokes.
Through the second set he gained three consecutive service video games to love and compelled Zverev to serve himself out of a gap on multiple event with assist of a vocal however general nice residence crowd at Rod Laver Area.
“I might actually really feel that you just guys have been locked down for 2 years,” Zverev mentioned. “I’m ready that everyone will hate me after the match. It’s fairly correct and that’s my mindset. I’ll get a number of boos and hopefully all people will cheer in opposition to me. I’m kidding.”
For all Millman’s hustling, although, Zverev merely had the sting, the tactical nous to power an extended rally to a head and an at-times uncanny capability to shave the tiniest outdoors sliver of the baseline. To offset his 38 unforced errors – a far larger tally than Millman’s 16 – he hit 37 winners to 9 and served 14 aces to zero, and can face Moldovan qualifier Radu Albot on Friday with a eager eye to more durable exams awaiting on the opposite facet.