Holger Rune and Alexander Zverev are in the second group of the Australian Open favorites, right after Novak Djokovic, Carlos Alcaraz, Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner. Rune and Zverev made a winning start on Tuesday, fighting for over three hours and toppling their rivals in four sets.
Rune kicked off the action against Yoshihito Nishioka and earned a 6-2, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4 triumph in three hours and 25 minutes. The Japanese fought well after the opener, missing a chance to open two sets to one lead and suffering an early break in the fourth that cost him dearly.
Holger fired 17 aces and outplayed his rival on the first and second serve. If the numbers are correct, the Dane blasted 70 winners, defending six out of seven break points and keeping the pressure on the other side. Holger grabbed three breaks, enough to emerge at the top.
They stayed neck and neck in the mid-range and most extended rallies, and Rune built the advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes. Holger played against two break points in the encounter's third game, defending them and cracking a forehand winner for 2-1, avoiding an early setback.
Nishioka sprayed a forehand error in the fourth game, losing serve and falling 3-1 behind. The Dane produced a fine hold in game five for 4-1 and earned two more break points in the next one. The Japanese denied them, reducing the deficit and remaining within one break deficit.
Holger held at love in game seven with a service winner and secured the opener with a break at love at 5-2 after Yoshihito's double fault. Rune saved two break points at the beginning of the second set before losing serve at 2-2 after Nishioka's attack and a forehand down the line winner.
Holger created three break chances in game six with a smash winner, looking good to pull the break back. However, the lower-ranked player stayed calm and clinched five straight points, producing a pivotal hold and forging a 4-2 advantage.
The Dane played against another break point in game seven, erasing it with a powerful serve and holding with a forehand down the line winner.
They held at love in games eight and nine, and Nishioka served for the set at 5-4. Rune earned a break point with a forehand winner, and a left-hander denied it with a backhand winner. The Japanese closed the game with a volley winner, taking the set and leveling the overall score after an hour and 25 minutes.
Holger saved a break point at 1-1 in the third set, and they served well in the upcoming games. Rune created a set point on the return at 5-4 after Nishioka's backhand error, and the lower-ranked player erased it with a smash winner.
The set went into a tie break, and Holger earned three set points after Yoshihito's loose backhand in the ninth point. Rune painted a forehand down the line winner on the first, wrapping up the set in style and gathering a massive boost ahead of the fourth.
Holger Rune and Alexander Zverev won in four sets at the Australian Open.
Holger kicked off the action with a break after a winner at the net, moving closer to the finish line. The Dane delivered five comfortable holds, serving for the victory at 5-4.
The young gun fired three service winners and held at love after the rival's mistake, moving into the second round. Alexander Zverev faced his compatriot Dominik Koepfer at Margaret Court Arena and prevailed 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 after three hours and 12 minutes.
Alexander served at 72% and fired 19 aces. He saved eight out of nine break points and delivered two breaks of serve to emerge at the top after a massive battle. Zverev hit 50 winners and 58 unforced errors, building a slim advantage in the shortest and mid-range exchanges and the more significant one in the most advanced rallies.
Zverev made a shaky start and lost serve in the third game after a massive forehand error. Koepfer hit the zone behind the initial shot right from the start, providing five comfortable holds and winning the opener 6-4 with an ace in game ten.
The lower-ranked German netted a forehand in the second set's sixth game, falling 4-2 behind. Alexander served for the set at 5-3 and faced three break points.
He denied them with winners and brought the set home with a service winner, leveling the overall score after an hour and 25 minutes. The third set went on for 70 minutes, and Dominik had a chance to clinch it much earlier. Zverev served at 4-5 and offered a left-hander two set points.
Alexander erased them with powerful serves and forced Dominik's mistake for 5-5 and a boost. The set went into a tie break, and a top-10 player grabbed all the points behind the initial shot. Alexander moved 6-2 up with three mighty forehands and clinched the breaker with a backhand drive-volley winner at 6-3, moving two sets to one in front after two hours and 30 minutes.
Alexander barely lost a point behind the initial shot in the fourth set, and Dominik could not follow that pace. Zverev forced Koepfer's mistake in the second game, securing a crucial break and moving 2-0 in front. Alexander closed the seventh game with a crafty volley at the net and earned a match point on the return at 5-2.
A left-hander denied it with a service winner and held, prolonging the action. Zverev served for the win at 5-3 and landed an ace down the T line for three match points. He converted the first with a forehand attack, safely moving into the second round for the eighth straight year in Melbourne.