MELBOURNE (AFP) – Alexander Zverev defied a boisterous crowd to storm into the third round of the Australian Open yesterday, bombarding home hope John Millman in straight sets with his blistering power game.
The German world number three, who is still looking to win his first Grand Slam, overpowered the 89th-ranked Millman with his back-court big hitting and searing serves to dominate their night match 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 in just under two hours on Rod Laver Arena.
It set up an encounter with Moldova’s Radu Albot tomorrow and was a sizzling statement of title intent.
“Amazing atmosphere, hopefully it will stay the same and get even louder for the next few matches,” Zverev, the Olympic champion, said before the noisy centre court crowd.
“I am prepared that everybody will hate me after the match, that’s my mindset and hopefully I will get a lot of boos, hopefully everybody will cheer against me.. I’m just kidding.
“I’ve said over the past two years since COVID started that sports need the atmosphere, sports need the people.
“It doesn’t matter if you are for me or against me, I enjoy the atmosphere, I enjoy the noise, I enjoy being on court.”
Zverev, who reached the semi-finals in Melbourne in 2020, is bidding for his first Grand Slam title after losing to Dominic Thiem in the US Open final later that year.
He could be on course for a box-office quarter-final showdown with 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal.
It was an awesome performance from Zverev, blasting 14 aces, 37 winners and winning 85 per cent of his first serve points. He broke the Australian’s serve six times.
Millman simply had no answer to Zverev’s boom hitting and lost the final set to love.
It was a significant step up in form by Zverev from his opening round win over fellow German Daniel Altmaier.
Zverev crowned his 2021 season with the Olympic singles gold medal in Tokyo and also beat world number two Daniil Medvedev in the ATP Tour Finals in Turin.
With the deportation of nine-time winner Novak Djokovic on the eve of the Australian Open, the men’s draw has opened up.
Zverev is among the leading contenders along with Medvedev, fourth-seeded Greek Sefanos Tsitsipas and Nadal.