ATP Australian Open: Alexander Zverev wins, Kei Nishikori survives scare


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ATP Australian Open: Alexander Zverev wins, Kei Nishikori survives scare

Playing his first official match of the season, the world no. 4 Alexander Zverev has earned the 23rd Grand Slam win following a 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 triumph over Aljaz Bedene in an hour and 55 minutes. It was a solid display from the young German who kept the points on his racquet after hitting 35 winners and 31 unforced errors, losing serve twice but managing to overcome that deficit on the return and secure the win in straight sets.

He struggled a little bit on the second serve but so did Bedene (eight from 33 points won after missing the first), creating eight break chances and converting six to secure his name in round two. Zverev, who suffered two minor injuries last week, saved a break point with an ace in the opening game of the match before Bedene found the way to break him at 3-3 after an excellent forehand pass that Zverev failed to control.

With the alarm bells ringing, Sascha broke back in the very next game and he grabbed the opener with the second consecutive break of serve in game ten after a backhand error from Bedene, winning three straight games for a 6-4 in 42 minutes.

Aljaz wasted game points at the start of the second set to lose serve following a costly double fault, trailing 4-0 when his volley finished in the net in the fourth game. Serving for the set at 5-1, Zverev held at 15 with an ace to move two sets to love up and he earned the lead with a break in game three in the third set to march towards the finish line.

Aljaz pulled the break back in the following game, though, staying in touch until 3-3 when he netted an easy backhand that gave Sascha the crucial lead. The Slovenian saved a match point at 3-5 but it was too late for any turnaround, allowing Zverev to hold at 15 in the next game and secure the place in round two.

The 8th seed and Brisbane champion Kei Nishikori almost suffered an early exit, overcoming a stern test from the Polish qualifier Kamil Majchrzak to score a 3-6, 6-7, 6-0, 6-2 3-0 win after the youngster was forced to retire in the deciding set.

The Japanese managed to score just one break in the opening two sets, standing on the verge of defeat before he managed to reset his game and dominate in the rest of the match, winning 15 of the next 17 games before Kamil decided he has had enough after two hours and 48 minutes.

The 11th seed Borna Coric kicked off his campaign with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 win over Steve Darcis in two hours, firing 16 aces and never losing his serve. He dominated on the return as well, creating nine opportunities and converting four to secure the place in the second round.

The Croat had the upper hand on the court, hitting 42 winners and 34 unforced errors and controlling the scoreboard after a fabulous opening set that gave him the momentum for the rest of the encounter. Seeded 15th, Daniil Medvedev had to spend less than two hours on the court against a qualifier Lloyd Harris, notching a 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 victory thanks to an excellent performance, never losing serve and hitting 27 winners and 13 unforced errors.

Harris could hit just six aces and he dropped almost half of the points in his games, facing no less than 17 break points and getting broken seven times to push Daniil safely into the second round. The 39-year-old Ivo Karlovic became the oldest Grand Slam match winner since Jimmy Connors at the US Open in 1992 and the Australian Open since Ken Rosewall in 1978 following a hard-fought 6-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6 victory over the young Pole Hubert Hurkacz in three hours and six minutes.

The Croat blasted 39 aces and we saw just two breaks of serve in the entire match, with nothing to separate them from start to finish. Kamil won the opening set with two mini-breaks and Ivo saved probably a crucial break point at 5-5 in set number two to stay in contention.

He then grabbed one mini-break to steal the set and avoid a big deficit, coming from a 5-3 down in set number three to win the breaker 7-3 and make a big step towards the win and record books. The Croat fends off two more break points at 5-5 in set number four, clinching the tie break 7-5 to scrapes past his rival and stay in the competition. First round results:

[12]Fabio Fognini (ITA) vs Jaume Munar (ESP) 7-6(3) 7-6(7) 3-1 Ret.
[15]Daniil Medvedev (RUS) vs [Q]Lloyd Harris (RSA) 6-1 6-2 6-1
Ilya Ivashka (BLR) vs Malek Jaziri (TUN) 4-6 7-6(6) 6-1 4-0 Ret.
Leonardo Mayer (ARG) vs Nicolas Jarry (CHI) 7-6(4) 7-6(3) 4-6 6-3
Ivo Karlovic (CRO) vs Hubert Hurkacz (POL) 6-7(5) 7-6(5) 7-6(3) 7-6(5)
[8]Kei Nishikori (JPN) vs [Q]Kamil Majchrzak (POL) 3-6 6-7(6) 6-0 6-2 3-0 Ret.
Pierre-Hugues Herbert (FRA) vs Sam Querrey (USA) 5-7 7-6(6) 6-3 6-1
Marton Fucsovics (HUN) vs Albert Ramos-Vinolas (ESP) 6-3 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3
Ryan Harrison (USA) vs Jiri Vesely (CZE) 6-0 7-5 6-3
[11]Borna Coric (CRO) vs [PR]Steve Darcis (BEL) 6-1 6-4 6-4
[WC]Alex Bolt (AUS) vs [WC]Jack Sock (USA) 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-2
[29]Gilles Simon (FRA) vs [Q]Bjorn Fratangelo (USA) 7-6(2) 6-4 6-2
[4]Alexander Zverev (GER) vs Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 6-4 6-1 6-4
Evgeny Donskoy (RUS) vs Laslo Djere (SRB) 6-7(5) 6-4 6-1 7-6(5)
[24]Hyeon Chung (KOR) vs Bradley Klahn (USA) 6-7(5) 6-7(5) 6-3 6-2 6-4