Teenage sensation Alexander Zverev has battled his way past Russian Teymuraz Gabashvili in a thrilling five set match, winning by a score of 6-3, 1-6 6-3, 3-6, 9-7, to reach the second round of Wimbledon.
The young German is tipped by many to be a player to watch out for, after impressing on his grass court debut in Halle a couple of weeks ago. He followed that with a win against world number one Novak Djokovic in straight sets in an exhibition match just before the big tournament.
Zverev, 18, started the match very brightly, winning the first set with relative ease. He won 81 percent of points on his first serve and made just three unforced errors. Gabashvili was let down by his own shortcomings, committing 3 double faults and 11 unforced errors.
The match was turned on its head in the second set when Gabashvili stormed through the second set 6-1. He won every single point on his first serve and converted on each of his three break point opportunites. Meanwhile, Zverev was equally poor in the second set. The German hopeful had four double faults and just 6 winners overall. Alarmingly, he won just 44 percent of points on his first serve – an area many consider a strength of his.
The third set was back to business as usual for Zverev. It was almost a mirror reflection of the first set, finishing with the same scoreline, 6-3. Zverev, also nicknamed ‘Sascha’, had his first serve back in working order, making 74 percent of them and winning 69 percent of those. Again though, the Russian 30-year-old made things unnecessarily difficult for himself, committing 16 unforced errors.
Gabashvili, coached by former world number eight Guillermo Canas, showed the fighting spirit once known of his mentor, taking the fourth set 6-3. This set was fairly equal in terms of performance, with the Russian being better at converting his opportunities than his German counterpart. Gabashvili converted his sole break point chance, with Zverev failing to do so on three separate occasions.
The final set was worth the wait though, as both players stepped up and played at a fairly high level. Zverev narrowly edged it 9-7 in the end and deservingly so. He had eight aces compared to just one double fault while Gabashvili had just three aces and four double faults. Both players had very similar numbers in other categories, with the Russian’s 12 unforced errors, compared to Zverev’s 7, making the difference in the end.
Overall, it was a classic first rounder that had everything. Zverev will be glad to go through this match the way he did, as these matches could help boost the learning experience for the promising youngster.
He will now face American 22-year-old Denis Kudla, who went through his own five-set battle against the 28th seed Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay, in the second round. Kudla came back from two sets to love down to win 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.