Big boy Alexander Zverev survives scare

Paris: German fifth seed  blew a two-set lead before edging out John Millman in a decider to reach the second round of the French Open on Tuesday. The 22-year-old, bidding to become the first German man to win the Roland Garros title since Henner Henkel in 1937, claimed a 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 2-6, 6-7 (5/7), 6-3 victory in the longest match of the tournament so far at four hours and 11 minutes.

Zverev will face Swedish qualifier Mikael Ymer for a place in the last 32. The world number five, who had struggled this season before winning the Geneva title last weekend, reached his only Grand Slam quarter-final in Paris 12 months ago. He also won three five-set matches in 2018 before his last-eight loss to eventual runner-up Dominic Thiem.

Zverev blew a double-break lead against Millman before taking the opening set in a tie-break, and looked to be cruising to victory after claiming the second. But Australian Millman, who stunned Roger Federer at last year’s US Open, stepped up his game, racing through the third set, before forcing a decider in another breaker having fought back from 4-2 down in the fourth.

Zverev finally crawled over the line on Court Philippe Chatrier, though, breaking in the eighth game of the final set and serving out victory on his first match point. The US veteran Serena Williams, seeded No. 10 in women’s singles, had to recover from one set down to eliminate Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 for the 800th main draw victory of her career.

Top-ranked Djokovic, bidding to become the second man in history to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time on two separate occasions, recorded his 22nd straight Grand Slam win by overcoming Hubert Hurkacz of Poland 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. The 15-time Grand Slam winner won 81 per cent on first serve, and possessed superior win on second serve over his Polish opponent, striking 27 winners in total.

“I thought that I won most of my service games comfortably. I was pretty dominant on my serves, and played a very solid match,” commented Djokovic, who will take on Henri Laaksonen in the second round. Last year’s finalist Dominic Thiem bounced back from 4-0 down in the tiebreak of the third set to see off Tommy Paul of the United States 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2.

Russian 12th-seeded Daniil Medvedev pocketed two sets 6-4, 6-4, but Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert turned the table 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. Williams, 37, lost four straight games after both players tied 2-2 in the opening set, while regrouping herself to win 12 of the next 13 games.

Fourth-seeded Kiki Bertens shrugged off local favourite Pauline Parmentier 6-3, 6-4, but former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki had to stop her journey after losing 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 to Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova.
China’s Zhang Shuai, who had failed in the first round on consecutive occasions in recent clay tournaments, whitewashed Varvara Lepchenko of the US 6-1, 6-1.

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