Alexander Zverev never dropped his serve despite the gusting wind to claim a 6-4 7-6(3) win over last weekend’s Washington Open finalist Tallon Griekspoor in their first-round match.
Little separated the pair until the 2017 champion earned the contest’s first break point opportunity on set point, which he converted when Griekspoor allowed a backhand passing shot to go past him.
The ball dropped in for the winner, and the towering German let out a triumphant roar.
Zverev rode that momentum in the second set and took firm control when an increasingly dejected Griekspoor shanked a forehand to give Zverev a 4-2 lead in the second set breaker.
Zverev’s 12th ace brought up match point and he sealed the win on an errant backhand by the Dutch player.
The match was Zverev’s first on the hard court summer swing leading up to the U.S. Open as he looks to continue to build confidence on the surface following the brutal ankle injury he suffered at Roland Garros in 2022.
“All in all, it was a good first hard court match in over four months for me,” he said.
“Especially since the last time I was on a hard court, I was still not 100% healthy with my ankle. I’m moving very different, sliding around the court more now.
“Generally, I’m extremely happy because he’s playing at a very high level at the moment.”
Next up for Zverev is Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Zverev holds a 3-0 lifetime record against the Spaniard.
Alex de Minaur fought back from a 5-3 first-set deficit to upset 11th seed Cameron Norrie 7-5 6-4.
Norrie appeared rattled after he failed to serve out the first set and struggled to get back on track as the speedy de Minaur stayed on the attack.
The Australian will next face Gabriel Diallo after the Canadian outlasted Washington Open champion Dan Evans of England 7-6(4) 7-5.
Rising American Ben Shelton beat Spain’s Bernabe Zapata Miralles 7-6(1) 6-4 under the lights and will face world number one Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz in the second round on Wednesday.
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