Zverev shows impressive form in US Open 1st-round win; Barty also advances

New York, Aug 31 (EFE).- Reigning Olympic men’s singles champion Alexander Zverev showed more signs of his outstanding form in first-round action here Tuesday at the US Open, brushing aside big-serving American Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 just an hour and 40 minutes.

The fourth-ranked German stretched his winning streak to 12 matches dating back to the Tokyo Games, where he spoiled Serbian world No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s dream of an Olympic gold medal and potential Golden Slam.

On Tuesday, he took a step toward a potential semifinal showdown against the Serbian great, who is trying this fortnight to win a record 21st men’s singles major and become the first male player since 1969 to win all four Grand Slam tennis events in a calendar year.

Querrey managed to stay on serve through the first eight games of the match, but Zverev clinched the first set after breaking the American’s serve at love to grab a 5-4 lead.

He then won a tightly contested second set thanks to a service break in the 11th game before cruising to the finish line in the third set.

The story of the match was Zverev’s untouchable serve, which he backed up with solid ground strokes off both sides.

The German struck 18 aces and won 90 percent of his first-serve points, a particularly remarkable feat considering he put a high 69 percent of his first serves in play.

He also got better on second serve as the match wore on and finished the match having won 61 percent of those points.

Although Zverev showed some frustration early in the match at his inability to break Querrey’s serve, that was mostly a sign of the heightened expectations he has a year after losing a marathon, five-set clash against Austria’s Dominic Thiem in last year’s US Open final.

“It is great to be back,” Zverev said in his on-court interview. “I still remember last year’s final. I still remember the four-hour match that I lost, unfortunately. It is great to be back on Arthur Ashe Stadium and have the fans back. We definitely missed them last year.”

The German, who is full of confidence after winning the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, earlier this month, is not bashful about stating his objective this fortnight.

“I hope in two weeks’ time I will be on an 18-match winning streak,” Zverev said. “Novak (Djokovic) is chasing history to win all four majors for the first time since Rod Laver, but I think the young guys are going to try and get in the way of that. I am looking forward to maybe giving him a challenge as well.”

Zverev will next take on Spain’s Albert Ramos-Viñolas, who edged France’s Lucas Pouille 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 on Tuesday.

In women’s action Tuesday, Australian world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty got through a rocky second set to defeat Russia’s Vera Zvonareva 6-1, 7-6 (9-7) and advance to the second round.

Barty appeared to be on cruise control after winning the opening set, but she made life difficult for herself by committing 18 unforced errors the rest of the way.

Even so, she came up with a forehand winner to save a set point in the tiebreaker and wrapped up the victory when she forced Zvonareva to hit a backhand over the baseline.

“She’s an experienced campaigner,” Barty said of her Russian opponent, who reached the Wimbledon and US Open finals in 2010 but at age 36 is now ranked No. 101 in the world.

“She knows how to get herself into matches. I think all in all, adapting to conditions was a little bit slower than I probably would have liked, (but) we’re through. We have another chance to improve on that in the next round,” said the Australian, who will next square off against Denmark’s Clara Tauson. EFE


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