Alexander Zverev survived a tricky first-round test to beat 2017 finalist Kevin Anderson 7-6(2), 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 in the US Open.
For the second straight event since the COVID-19 lockdown, world number seven Zverev was given a tough draw, facing a former top-five opponent in his opening match.
“Kevin is not somebody you usually play in the first round,” the 23-year-old Zverev said. “I'm extremely happy to get through.”
After losing to Andy Murray at the Western and Southern Open last week, Zverev ensured he came out of the blocks quickly against Anderson and he took the opening set in a one-sided tiebreak.
Both players were locked in an intense serve-and-volley duel before Anderson converted his only break-point opportunity in the second set.
The towering South African came out on top with some deft touches at the net to draw level after two sets but Zverev soon found another gear to regain momentum.
Fifth seed Zverev took control of the contest with an early break in the third set as Anderson, playing only his ninth match of another injury-plagued season, struggled to keep up with his opponent's stinging groundstrokes.
After showing impressive control on his first serve, Zverev patiently worked on Anderson's serve to carve out a decisive break point late in the fourth set to clinch a hard-fought victory. The result gave Zverev a much-needed confidence boost as he bids to improve on his maiden Grand Slam semifinal appearance in Melbourne earlier this year.
Zverev will next face American wild card Brandon Nakashima, who defeated Italian Paolo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(3). Elsewhere, Belgium's David Goffin beat home hope Reilly Opelka 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.
- Dominant Tsitsipas advances -
Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas kicked off his quest for a maiden Grand Slam title in style as he overwhelmed Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-2, 6-1, 6-1.
Tsitsipas never faced a break point and broke Ramos-Vinolas seven times during the 98-minute match.
“I had a clear picture of what I was doing, where I was pressing. The depth on my ball was good,” said Tsitsipas, whose best Grand Slam result to date came at the 2019 Australian Open where he reached the semi-finals.
The 22-year-old Tsitsipas, who has never been beyond the second round of the US Open, came into this week with 16 wins to his name this season and has been tipped by many to make a deep run in a tournament missing a number of top players.
Tsitsipas broke to go ahead 3-1 and that opened up his game as he went on to play the contest on his terms, flashing equal parts power and variety to overwhelm his opponent.
After Ramos-Vinolas held serve to start the third set, Tsitsipas won six consecutive games to wrap up the match and improve to 3-0 in head-to-head meetings with the Spaniard.
Tsitsipas enjoyed a solid day from the service line as he lost just four first-serve points and finished his day with 38 winners against 26 unforced errors.
The loss brought a speedy end to Ramos-Vinolas's return to competition as the Spaniard, in his first tour-level event since the ATP Tour returned from its COVID-19 hiatus, withdrew from last week's tune-up to be at the birth of his first child.
Up next for Tsitsipas will be a first-ever career meeting with American wildcard Maxime Cressy, who beat Slovakia's Jozef Kovalik 6-1, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.
- Shapovalov beats Korda, Norrie ousts Schwartzman -
Denis Shapovalov, one of tennis's young guns tipped as a future Grand Slam winner, took a confident first step towards living up to the hype moving into the second round of the US Open with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over American wildcard Sebastian Korda.
The Canadian 12th seed has advanced to at least the third round in all three US Opens he has played and rarely looked in trouble against the 205th ranked Korda, who was making his Grand Slam main draw debut.
Korda, the son of former world number two and 1998 Australian Open winner Petr Korda, rarely had Shapovalov under pressure. Korda earned only two break chances during the match, converting just one that allowed him to claim the second set.
Other than that there was little for the senior Korda, who also serves as his son's coach, to applaud as he looked on from a mostly deserted Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Meanwhile, Briton Cameron Norrie claimed his biggest win at a Grand Slam when he came from two sets down to beat ninth seed Diego Schwartzman 3-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 7-5 in the first round.
Both players served poorly, resulting in 58 break points being up for grabs in total, and 25-year-old Norrie saved two match points in the decider before prevailing after nearly four hours.
- Johnson withstands Isner storm to advance -
John Isner began the US Open in typical fashion with a barrage of aces and a match that stretched to five sets, but the American failed to find a way past compatriot Steve Johnson as he fell 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(3).
World number 22 Isner sent down 52 aces in the contest -- the most at Flushing Meadows since Ivo Karlovic fired 61 in 2016 -- but Johnson withstood the storm to prevail in a gruelling match that lasted nearly four hours at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Johnson next faces Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis, who got past Italian Federico Gaio 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. The American is looking to reach the third round for the first time since 2012.
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