Fifth seed Alexander Zverev began his US Open campaign with a 7-6, 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 victory over Kevin Anderson on Arthur Ashe Stadium. The German won his fifth consecutive first round match at Flushing Meadows and remains perfect in his career against Anderson, having beaten the 2017 finalist for the sixth time in as many tries.
Zverev produced a clean performance with 52 winners to just 33 unforced errors while serving 18 aces. When he was able to get the first serve in, the German won 86 percent of those points while also successful 17 of 20 times at net. Anderson hadn't seen defeat in the opening round in New York since 2012 and he hadn't suffered a first-round loss at any major since the 2018 Australian Open.
Zverev wins close battle to reach second round
Coming into the match, it was thought Anderson would have the advantage on serve with Zverev's well-documented issues, but it was the German who struck first, gaining the advantage after the South African double-faulted to give Zverev a 3-2 lead. After saving a break point to hold, it looked like the fifth seed would hold his advantage to take the set.
Serving at 5-4, Zverev was broken as Anderson stepped up his aggression off of the ground to draw level. Both men held in their next service games to send the set to a tiebreaker. The German started fast, gaining two minibreaks on the way to a 4-1 lead. Ahead 6-2, Zverev watched as Anderson committed a double fault to hand him the 55-minute opening set.
The second set was mainly dominated by the server, Anderson pushed to a three deuce game in the second game. Other than that, he lost just five points on his serve while Zverev dropped just four through his first five service games. At 5-5, the fifth seed faced a break point and after a strong serve, had an easy overhead which he promptly missed to give Anderson a 6-5 lead. At 30-30, he produced back-to-back strong serves to win both points and level the match.
Both men were under pressure to begin the third set, Anderson saving a break point in the second game, Zverev saving two in the third. At 2-1 and holding another break point, the German pounced on a short forehand by ripping a backhand and following it in to put away a backhand volley for a winner to secure a 3-1 lead. Neither player was troubled in their service games for the remainder of the set and at 5-3, Zverev held to love as Anderson flew a forehand long to hand the fifth seed a two sets to one advantage.
Both players were in a groove on serve, losing a combined 11 points in ten service games in the fourth set. The decisive moment came at 5-5 with Zverev holding two break points, but only needing one to convert as Anderson dumped a forehand into the net to hand the German the initiative and he summarily served out the match to love as the South African missed on a final backhand to close out the match.