PARIS: Alexander Zverev was made to work hard to reach the second round of the French Open with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 2-6 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 win over Australian John Millman on Tuesday.
The German fifth seed, looking for a major breakthrough on the Grand Slam stage, needed more than four hours to see off the world number 56 and set up a meeting with Swedish qualifier Mikael Ymer.
The 22-year-old Zverev, one of the leading figures of the sport’s ‘new generation’, claimed his best result at a major when he reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros last year.
For a moment, it seemed he could be sent packing on his first day on court.
Millman cancelled out Zverev’s early break with the German winning the resulting tiebreak in the opener before sailing through the second set.
But Zverev never looked comfortable in changing conditions on Court Philippe Chatrier and he was overpowered in the third, Millman taking the tie into a fourth set with a powerful forehand winner.
Zverev stole his serve but Millman turned it around to force a tiebreak, which he won to take the match into a decider.
That did not please Zverev, who destroyed his racket in frustration.
But a timely break in the ninth game of the fifth set had him serve for the match. There were no nerves on display as Zverev ended the contest on his first match point.