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Alexander Zverev was made to feel more than a little uncomfortable on Monday as he began his Australian Open campaign with a hard-fought victory.

Competing just two days after helping Germany reach the ATP Cup semi-finals, sixth seed Zverev dug deep to beat American Marcos Giron 6-7(8), 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-2 in two hours and 42 minutes for a place in the second round.

“He played incredibly well and played really well on the big stage against a Top 10 player,” said Zverev in an on court interview. “He had me on the ropes and the second set could have gone either way. I didn’t want to go two sets down. I am happy to get through and in the end I played better. The first round of a Slam is never easy.”

Giron recovered from 2-4 down in the first set, but could not convert four set points in the tie-break at 6/3 and 7/6, before Zverev held a set-point chance of his own at 8/7. Giron held on, striking a forehand winner, and earned three consecutive points to clinch the 59-minute opener.

Zverev led 5-2 in the second set, but got frustrated with Giron’s potency — he won 20 of 22 first-service points — and let the American back in. But the lapse was temporary as Zverev performed strongly in the tie-break, and went on to break early in the third and fourth sets.

“I think it’s incredible to play in front of fans again,” said Zverev. “That’s something that we missed over the last year or so… I still felt my abs and my back a little bit, so the serve wasn’t full power like it usually is. I barely got over 210 [km/h] on the serve, which is still quite fast, but for me I know I can go faster than that, so I had to vary it a little bit. I had to go [for] a lot of spin. All in all, he played well, and for me the longer the match went, the better I started playing. That’s something positive, I think.”

Zverev, who hit 50 winners, including 16 aces, against Giron, went 1-2 in singles play for Germany at last week’s ATP Cup in Melbourne. The 23-year-old will next play American qualifier Maxime Cressy or lucky loser Taro Daniel of Japan at Melbourne Park.

Elsewhere, French No. 32 seed Adrian Mannarino knocked out Dennis Novak of Austria 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(2) and now plays Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic, who defeated Kamil Majchrzak of Poland 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.


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