Alexander Zverev is back playing Grand Slam matches and more importantly winning them as he claimed his first top level victory since picking up a horrific injury last year, seeing off Juan Pablo Varillas in the first round of the Australian Open.
The German tore ligaments in his ankle when his foot got stuck in the ground during his semi-final match against Rafael Nadal at the French Open. He underwent surgery and missed Wimbledon and the US Open.
After playing a few exhibition matches in December, Zverev made his official return at the mixed team United Cup in January but lost both his singles encounters.
On Tuesday he finally made his major comeback and this time he got a win under his belt as he defeated Peruvian lucky loser Varillas 4-6, 6-1, 5-7, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4.
Asked how he felt after the match, the former world No 2 replied: “Tired, obviously, but extremely happy as I missed this over the last seven months.
“This match alone pays off for all the hard work and suffering that I have had over the last year. I am happy to be back on court, I am happy to be able to play these matches, to win in front of this crowd again.
“I can’t wait for the rest of this tournament. No matter what happens from now, the tournament is already a success for me.”
He will face either qualifier Laurent Lokoli from France or American Michael Mmoh in the second round.
The 25-year-old’s, whose best performance at Melbourne Park came in 2020 when he reached the semi-final, is taking it match by match.
He added: “Expectations? No. From myself, none at all to be honest because this is my first Grand Slam match back. Obviously he is an incredible player, he played one of the best matches of his life.”
The other big-name player in Section 7 is Taylor Fritz and the eighth-seeded American had problems reaching the second round as he defeated Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-6, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.
Several matches were interrupted on Tuesday due to the weather as organisers implemented the extreme heat policy.
The Fritz-Basilashvili match, though continued as it was played indoor on John Cain Arena and
“It’s hot, but it’s dry heat, so I don’t really mind it too much,” Fritz said during his post-match press conference.
“I think playing in, like, D.C. last year, US Open some years, is much worse because it’s so hot, plus the humidity.
“When it’s like today, it’s not that humid…I don’t think it’s as bad.”
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