Zverev withstands King's challenge, Tomic crashes out

Alexander Zverev remained composed as he overcame world number 168 Darian King in three sets in the first round of the US Open. Bernard Tomic went down 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to Luxembourg 19th seed Gilles Muller in the first round after missing the entire summer hardcourt season with illness.

German star Alexander Zverev earned his victory over Darian King in the early hours at Flushing Meadows.   -  Getty Images

Alexander Zverev withstood a stern challenge from qualifier Darian King to progress to the second round of the US Open in a match that finished past 2am in New York on Tuesday.

World number 168 King appeared in his first grand slam match but was not overawed and made the in-form Zverev battle to a 7-6 (11-9), 7-5, 6-4 victory in the early hours at Flushing Meadows.

With Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori absent from the year's final major, fourth seed Zverev has emerged as one of the players to beat at Flushing Meadows following titles in Washington and Montreal.

The 20-year-old racked up 62 errors but eventually showed why he is so highly rated, remaining composed to see off the tricky challenge of King and earn a second-round meeting with Borna Coric.

It was a sluggish start from Zverev, who was broken in the third game as King took a surprising 2-1 lead.

Showing it was not a fluke, King then saved two break points to consolidate his advantage before two passing shots earned him another chance to break, but Zverev this time survived.

That sparked Zverev – who has never progressed beyond the second round of the US Open – into action as he broke to put the contest back on serve with a stunning drop shot.

With momentum on his side, Zverev then went a break in front, only to hand it straight back to King and the youngster consolidated to level the match at 5-5 much to the annoyance of his opponent.

Zverev's frustrations increased as King refused to go way, forcing a tie-break, but the German recovered from 5-3 down and saved two set points to take out the first set.

The second set was a lot more straightforward, with neither player able to break serve through eight games.

Zverev eventually made the breakthrough in the 11th game as he moved 6-5 ahead and that was the opening he needed to take a commanding two-sets lead.

There was a sense of inevitability in the third set after Zverev claimed the early break and, although King refused to surrender, it was only a matter of time before the match was over.

CILIC MAKES WINNING RETURN

Cilic tried to find confidence from the heartbreak of an injury-hampered Wimbledon final loss.   -  AFP

 

Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion and last month’s Wimbledon runner-up, had not played since losing the All England final to Roger Federer due to an adductor strain.

But the Croatian fifth seed ousted 105th-ranked American Tennys Sandgren 6-4, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Bernard Tomic went down 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to Luxembourg 19th seed Gilles Muller in the first round after missing the entire summer hardcourt season with illness.

Cilic tried to find confidence from the heartbreak of an injury-hampered Wimbledon final loss. The thigh injury left him in tears on the court as he lost to Roger Federer last month in a bid for a second Grand Slam crown after his 2014 US Open triumph. “I knew that, OK, I was not physically 100 percent in that final. That was just tough for me to handle, especially in that moment,” Cilic said.

“But I took all positives out of it. Up to the end of Wimbledon, I had really consistent play, maybe the best ever in my career, so that’s extremely positive for me. Now I'm looking to build on that.”

“Reaching another Grand Slam final is big motivation for me,” Cilic said.

“I’m looking forward to getting to my good form, keep it month after month. Hopefully next 12, 18 months I can be looking back with some great results as well.”

After the long injury layoff, Cilic hopes to quickly play his way into shape as the Flushing Meadows fortnight unfolds.

“Everything feels OK physically. I'm very happy with that. That's the No.1 thing,” he said.

“On the court I'm just lacking a little bit of that consistency point after point, to be continuing with my aggression. After those first two sets, which were quite good considering I haven't played, just dropped little bit with my game.

“I was actually feeling that could be also quite good for me to get in some rallies, battle it out, just mentally wise to get myself in a good position. Not the best as I would want, but still in a good way.”

Cilic inherited the draw spot belonging to Britain's Andy Murray when the second seed withdrew Saturday due to a left hip injury, meaning a new path to the final and a switch in first-match foe from Frenchman Gilles Simon on short notice.

“It didn't bother me much in my preparation,” Cilic said. “Basically still my biggest focus is on myself, to get my game on a good level. It’s a great opportunity. That bottom part of the draw is a little bit more open there. Still focusing on myself to get to the good form and try to pass first couple rounds. Then I think my tennis is going to get better.”

With defending champion Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic joining Murray out of the event, and stars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the other half of the draw, the chances for Cilic improve to reach another Slam final.

TSONGA CRUISES THROUGH

French eighth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga made light work of Marius Copil 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.

At a jampacked Court 17, three-time US Open quarter-finalist Tsonga was a class above as he hit 29 winners against the Romanian.

Following the withdrawal of second seed Andy Murray, the draw has opened up for Tsonga, who next plays Canadian sensation Denis Shapovalov.

Shapovalov announced himself with wins over Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal en route to the semi-finals of the Montreal Masters.

And the 18-year-old showcased his talented as he made his US Open debut, defeating Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-1, 6-2.

THOMPSON STUNS SOCK IN MARATHON

It took three hours, 56 minutes but Aussie Jordan Thompson prevailed 6-2, 7-6 (14-12), 1-6, 5-7, 6-4 against 13th seed Sock.

Sock rallied from 5-4 down and saved two matches points to force a deciding fifth set.

But Thompson – who claimed his first win at Flushing Meadows – regained his composure to trump Sock for the second time this year, having shocked the American during the Davis Cup in Brisbane.

Seeds Sam Querrey, Kevin Anderson, Lucas Pouille, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Pablo Carreno Busta and Diego Schwartzman also progressed.

However, two-time semi-finalist David Ferrer (27) was beaten in four sets by Mikhail Kukushkin and Robin Haase (32) fell to Britain's Kyle Edmund.