Without Lendl—Who Will Return For Grass Swing—Zverev Survives In Five
Fresh off his first title of the season in Geneva, where he saved two match points in the final, No. 5 seed Alexander Zverev earned his opening-round victory at Roland Garros the hard way against No. 56-ranked John Millman: in five sets, 7-6 (4), 6-3, 2-6, 6-7 (5), 6-3.
After squandering two break-of-serve leads in the first set, Zverev managed to take the early lead, and then kept the momentum going to close out the second set.
He seemed to be on his way to the finish line when Millman decided he wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
The Aussie fended off two break points in the fourth game, took the next four games, and edged out the fourth set in a tiebreak.
The dramatic shift in fortune caused Zverev to take his frustration out on his racquet, which he smashed several times.
Ultimately, though, Zverev took out his frustration on Millman, winning the fifth set with some of his most focused tennis of the day.
"In Geneva, I won a lot of tight matches that I lost this year on the clay, and, you know, I think Geneva helped me today, as well," Zverev said.
"Obviously very different conditions out there. Very difficult to play today. But, you know, I think it's great that I came through and this is the most important.
Afterward, Zverev was asked about the omission of Ivan Lendl from his player box, but assured Tennis Channel's Jon Wertheim that he'll return for the upcoming grass-court season.
Last year at the US Open, Millman shocked fans in Flushing Meadows when he took out Roger Federer in the fourth round, rallying from a set down.
"I felt like a deer in the headlights to begin with; Roger had it on a string, he was manipulating me around the court, but I got out of a tough second set and really found my feet," Millman had said on court after his stunning victory.
"I started to be more aggressive and I started to serve well and capitalized a little bit on Roger having an off service day."
Next up for Zverev is qualifier Mikael Ymer, who eliminated Blaz Rola, 6-0, 6-3, 7-6 (5) earlier on Tuesday.
"We played in Stockholm. It was a great match. Tough match," Zverev said, referring to his previous match against Ymer. "Obviously he's improved a lot.
Had a few, I think, very good matches here. Came through qualifying.
"He has great rhythm, great confidence. It's going to be an interesting one. I know his brother better than him. I actually did a training block this year with his brother."