After Olympic triumph, Zverev begins US Open campaign in style

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New York, Sep 1 (IANS) Fourth seed Alexander Zverev of Germany extended his winning streak to 12 matches as he moved past American Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 to reach the second round at the US Open here.

The German has been in dominant form in recent weeks, defeating world No. 1 Novak Djokovic en route to the Tokyo Olympics singles gold medal, before capturing his fifth ATP Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati earlier this month.

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“It is great to be back,” Zverev said in his interview to atptour.com on Tuesday evening. “I still remember last year’s final. I still remember the four-hour match that I lost, unfortunately. It is great to be back on Arthur Ashe Stadium and have the fans back, we definitely missed them last year.”

Zverev showcased his confidence against Querrey as he hammered 36 winners and broke four times to advance in one hour and 39 minutes. The 24-year-old will next face either Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas or former world No. 10 Lucas Pouille as he aims to lift his maiden major trophy in New York over the next fortnight.

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“I hope in two weeks’ time I will be on an 18-match winning streak,” Zverev said. “Novak (Djokovic) is chasing history to win all four majors for the first time since Rod Laver (1969), but I think the young guys are going to try and get in the way of that. I am looking forward to maybe giving him a challenge as well.”

The 17-time tour-level titlist, who came within two points of clinching his first major title at last year’s US Open — Zverev lost to Austria’s Dominic Thiem — has also lifted trophies on hard courts in Acapulco and clay in Madrid this season, while reaching the semifinals at the French Open in June.

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“I have been working extremely hard on a lot of things, like my serve,” Zverev added. “But when I am happy it is when I am playing well. That is the most important thing. The past year has been very good for me.”

Italy’s Matteo Berrettini faced a difficult first-round rival, but finally beat Jeremy Chardy of France 7-6(5), 7-6(7), 6-3 after two hours and 31 minutes.

The Italian did well to battle through his opener in straight sets in his first major appearance since advancing to the Wimbledon final two months ago where he lost to Novak Djokovic. The sixth seed blasted 37 winners to just 15 unforced errors and will next play Frenchman Corentin Moutet, who beat Italian Stefano Travaglia 6-4, 7-5, 7-6(3).

“I think it was a good match. Before stepping on (court), I knew it would be really tough for so many reasons,” Berrettini said. “First of all, because Jeremy is a great player. I know he can play really good, especially on these courts. They are really fast. He’s really tricky to play.”

The USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center has been a good venue for Berrettini, who made his first big breakthrough at Flushing Meadows two years ago by advancing to the semifinals as the 24th seed.

–IANS

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