Zverev Storms Past Millman In Melbourne

  • Posted: Jan 19, 2022

Alexander Zverev showed his rivals he means business at the Australian Open as he produced an efficient performance Wednesday, downing Australian John Millman 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 to reach the third round in Melbourne.

The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion was strong on serve throughout his one-hour, 59-minute victory, firing 14 aces and winning 85 per cent (47/55) of points behind his first delievery against a resilient Millman, who was backed by a vocal crowd on Rod Laver Arena.

“Sport needs atmosphere and the people,” Zverev said when asked about the crowd on Rod Laver Arena. “It doesn’t matter if you are for me or against me, I enjoy the atmosphere and I enjoy being on court in front of all of you guys. I think spectators bring the emotions, and sport without spectators is like sport without emotions, so I think it is incredible to play in front of everybody.”

The German, who has yet to drop a set in Melbourne, found his range as the match went on, committing seven unforced errors in the third set compared to 15 in the opener. Zverev will next face Radu Albot after the World No. 124 downed Australian wild card Aleksandar Vukic 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-4.

With his victory, the World No. 3 has extended his perfect 9-0 record against players at their home Grand Slams. The 19-time tour-level champion defeated Australian Alex Bolt in the third round in Melbourne in 2019.

Zverev now leads Millman 3-0 in their ATPHead2Head series and has advanced to the third round six years in a row. The 24-year-old’s best result at the first major of the year came in 2020 when he reached the semi-finals.

“My tactic today was to hit the ball as hard as possible,” Zverev added. “Hopefully I can hit it even harder in the next match and then the next match and then even harder against Rafa!”

In a lively start, three breaks were exchanged, with two going Zverev’s way. The German’s timing was slightly off in the opening set from the baseline as he committed 15 unforced errors to 14 winners. However, he kept Millman at bay to move ahead after 47 minutes.

The German was then made to work hard in the second set, saving two break points at 3-2, 15/40, with two big first serves to hold. Millman won one more point (27-26) than Zverev in the set, but the World No. 3 was the better player in the pressure moments as he seized further control.

Zverev produced his best tennis of the match in the third set, dictating from the baseline as he crushed forehands and hammered backhands to outmanoeuvre Millman and advance.

Millman was making his eighth appearance on home soil in Melbourne but could not find the victory that the Aussie crowd craved as he tried to reach the third round for the third time.

In other action, 17th seed Gael Monfils maintained his strong start to the season, downing Alexander Bublik 6-1, 6-0, 6-4 to reach the third round for the 11th time.

The Frenchman, who won his 11th tour-level title at the Adelaide International 1 earlier this month, fired 34 winners and committed just nine unforced errors to dispatch the World No. 37 after one hour and 34 minutes.

“I had a tough time and now I feel great and strong,” Monfils said in his on-court interview. “You guys are back and I am back and hopefully I will do well. I was born ready [on the challenge ahead].”

Monfils will next face Cristian Garin after the 16th seed clawed past Pedro Martinez 6-7(1), 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 after four hours and 35 minutes. It is the first time Garin has advanced to the third round in Melbourne.

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