Zverev Nets First Win Of 2020, Then Makes Big Pledge
Rublev extends perfect start to the season
Alexander Zverev recorded his first match win of the 2020 season on Tuesday at the Australian Open and immediately made a pledge to donate “every single cent” of his prize money if he goes onto lift his first major trophy.
The German earned a confidence-boosting 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-3 victory over Italian Marco Cecchinato, who was looking for his first victory in three visits to the Australian Open, in two hours and 23 minutes.
During his on-court interview, Zverev told spectators on Margaret Court Arena, “I always make it hard for myself, but there was a lot of high level tennis. I really appreciate the fans staying out late. I will donate $10,000 for every match I win here and I know I’m not the favourite to win this event, but I’ll donate every single cent to the bushfire relief fund if I win the title.”
The World No. 7, who’d gone 0-3 for Team Germany at the inaugural ATP Cup two weeks ago, broke Cecchinato’s serve five times and hit 35 winners to set up a second-round clash against Belarus' Egor Gerasimov, who needed three hours and 34 minutes to defeat Casper Ruud of Norway 6-3, 7-6(6), 1-6, 4-6, 7-6(6).
The 22-year-old Zverev, who is through to the second round for the fourth straight year, recovered from 2-4 down in the first set and from a 3-5 deficit in the second set, finishing the tie-break with a forehand approach that Cecchinato could not scramble back successfully. Zverev lost his serve in the first game of the third set, but immediately bounced back and broke for a 5-3 lead.
“I didn't play well at the ATP Cup, everybody saw that,” said Zverev. “I was struggling a lot with my serve, I was struggling a lot with my groundstrokes. I think I was much more stable [today] than I was there. This is a positive for me. Obviously, there's a lot still to build.”
Elsewhere, in-form Russian Andrey Rublev extended his perfect start to the season to 9-0 after the No. 17 seed knocked out World No. 115 and Australian wild card Christopher O'Connell 6-3, 0-6, 6-4, 7-6(5) in two hours and 15 minutes. He now faces Japan’s Yuichi Sugita, a 6-2, 6-0, 6-3 victor over qualifier Elliot Benchetrit of France.
Rublev came into the tournament on the back of winning two ATP Tour titles at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open (d. Moutet) and at the Adelaide International (d. Harris), the first player to win two titles in the opening two weeks of the season since Dominik Hrbaty in 2004.
Former World No. 7 David Goffin, the 2016 quarter-finalist, cruised past Jeremy Chardy 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 in one hour and 48 minutes and now plays another Frenchman in Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who overcame Cameron Norrie of Great Britain 7-5, 3-6, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 in three hours and 42 minutes.
Nikoloz Basilashvili, the No. 26 seed, who has reached the third round for the past two years, didn’t have things all his own way in a 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Soonwoo Kwon of South Korea. The Georgian now plays 2009 semi-finalist Fernando Verdasco, who was a 7-5, 6-2, 6-1 winner against Russian lucky loser Evgeny Donskoy.