Alexander Zverev made a winning return to Roland Garros on Tuesday with a straight-sets win over Lloyd Harris in the French Open first round, 12 months since suffering a serious ankle injury in the semi-finals.
The German had to retire injured from a dramatic last-four clash with Rafael Nadal last season after twisting his ankle and did not play again in 2022.
That match had already reached three hours and was locked at 6-6 in the second set after Nadal won a first-set tie-break when Zverev suffered torn ankle ligaments and had to be taken off Court Philippe Chatrier in a wheelchair.
Zverev, who was the third seed last year, is only seeded 22nd this time around after struggling to recapture his best form since returning to the ATP Tour.
But the former US Open finalist had enough to beat South African Harris 7-6(6), 7-6, 6-1.
“It’s nice to be back. I’ve marked this day in bold on my calendar since last year,” Zverev said.
“I was obviously very disappointed with how that tournament ended for me (last year).
“That’s why I think I appreciate even more when I play in a full stadium and the crowd is behind me.”
Zverev went out in the first round in 2017 and needed five sets to win his opening tie at Roland Garros in both 2019 and 2021.
“No (not happy with his performance). But I’m happy that I won in three sets. Normally I start with five-set matches so I’m happy to win in three.”
Zverev will next face Slovakia’s Alex Molcan as he tries to reach the third round for a sixth straight year.
He came back to the Tour at the start of 2023 but has since slipped from 12th to 27th in the rankings.
Zverev, who has won three of his five Masters titles on clay, failed to reach the quarter-finals in each of Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome this season.
“Get some more wins. Get six more wins in the next two weeks,” said the Olympic champion when asked what he wants to improve.
- LIVE Kerala Blasters vs Bengaluru FC score, ISL 2023-24: Kick-off at 8:00 PM IST; Lineups out, KBFC v BFC updates;
- Asian Games 2023: Chhetri penalty earns India 1-0 win against Bangladesh; keeps qualification hopes alive
- Vizag Open Golf: Akshay Sharma in lead after round two
- Indian sports news wrap, September 21
- World Championships: Indian wrestlers’ woeful performance continues in greco-roman