Alexander Zverev is reckoned to be one of the most exciting players of his generation but the 18-year-old German was no match for Andy Murray here today at the Australian Open. Murray, who had beaten Zverev in straight sets at the Hopman Cup in the first week of the season, won their first-round match 6-1, 6-2, 6-3.
Murray’s opening match was played in the heat of the day in Margaret Court Arena, which is the second of the show courts here. Although there was some welcome cloud cover at the start, the temperature had climbed to 28C by the end, leaving Murray grateful to finish the job in straight sets.
“I played a good match, but I could have been a bit more efficient in the third set,” Murray said afterwards. “The third set was a long one. We played a lot of long games, especially on his serve. I think I could have done a little bit better job of closing the match out a little bit sooner, because I did have chances to go up a double break.
Zverev forced six break points in the match but Murray held on to his serve throughout. In contrast the Scot created 13 chances to break his German opponent and converted six of them.
Zverev, who suffered a nosebleed in the early stages, was in trouble from the moment he played a poor fourth game, two unforced forehand errors and a double fault giving Murray his first break of serve. The Scot, who was quickly into his stride, broke again two games later and served out for the set after just 35 minutes.
Murray was enjoying good vocal backing from the group of four young men wearing t-shirts spelling out his name who have supported him here for several years now. He broke serve in the opening games of both the second and third sets and eventually closed out victory after two hours and seven minutes.
The world No 2 next plays Sam Groth. He faced the big-serving Australian in doubles in Britain’s Davis Cup semi-final victory in Glasgow in September but this will be their first meeting in singles.
“He's a big guy,” Murray said. “He serves big and uses serve-and-volley tactics. He tries to get forward as much as he can. You don't see many players like that now. That will be different. Obviously he will have the crowd behind him as well.
“He's a competitive guy, too. He fights extremely hard and has a great attitude. He will make it tough for me because he has a different game style to a lot of the players now. I'll be ready for that. I normally enjoy playing against the guys that come forward, so hopefully I can return well and pass well. I'll need to if I want to win.”
Murray is the only British man left in the singles after Aljaz Bedene and Dan Evans both suffered comprehensive defeats. Evans lost 11 games in a row during his 6-1, 6-0, 6-4 defeat by Feliciano Lopez, while Bedene went down 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 to Steve Johnson, of the United States.