Down a break at 5-2 in the second set, Alexander Zverev could have cast his eyes to the seemingly inevitable third set against Robin Haase on Monday at the NOVENTI OPEN.
But the German kept his focus on what was in front of him, and didn’t even need to bother with a third set. The two-time Halle finalist (2016, 2017) beat Haase 6-4, 7-5 to make the second round at the ATP 500 event.
“This is probably one of my favourite tournaments and I’m always motivated here. Last year, I played with an injury here and lost first round and this year I really want to do well. I hope this was a good start for a good tournament for me,” Zverev said.
Zverev dug himself out of trouble to serve for the match at 6-5 in the second set, but needed more heroics to stave off the Dutch veteran. The second-seeded Zverev saved two break points while serving at 6-5, including one during a 41-shot rally that Haase ended when he sprayed a backhand wide.
Zverev fell to countryman Florian Mayer in the 2016 final and Roger Federer in 2017. Federer, a nine-time champion, is again the top seed at the grass-court event.
The 22-year-old Zverev will next face American Steve Johnson, who ended a three-match losing streak by beating Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-3. Johnson hit 13 aces, won 85 per cent of his first-serve points (29/34) and never faced a break point.
“He is someone who has an unbelievable serve, a very good grass-court game. He has won a [couple] tournaments on grass. He has a good forehand and a very good slice. He beat Philipp in straight sets, which also tells a lot,” Zverev said. “It won’t be an easy match but there are no bad players here. Therefore, there aren’t any easy matches here.”