German Alexander Zverev got his bid for a maiden major off to a smooth start by beating American Sam Querrey 6-4 7-5 6-2 in the first round of the U.S. Open on Tuesday.
Querrey kept the match close through the first two sets but was stymied by unforced errors as 2020 runner-up Zverev kept his game comparatively clean and fired off 25 winners.
The world number four went in for the kill in the third set and with the fifth game secured a double-break lead with the momentum squarely in his favour, never facing a break point himself during the entire match.
In a showdown between two six foot six inch (1.98-metre) power servers, Zverev’s consistency proved critical and he won 90% of his first-serve points compared to 70% for Querrey, who fended off three match points in the seventh game but was nonetheless defeated in a brisk one hour and 40 minutes.
Zverev, who was two points away from winning a year ago before Dominic Thiem rallied to victory, is among the younger cohort hoping to upset world number one Novak Djokovic’s bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam.
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Zverev said Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and Russian Daniil Medvedev, who lost to Djokovic in the French and Australian Open finals respectively, were two of the potential challengers to the world number one, though he was quick to remind reporters of his own win over Djokovic in the Tokyo semi-finals, en route to Olympic gold.
“I was the first person to beat him on a hard court or grass court this season, and I was also the only person to beat him at a very, very big event this year,” he said.
“I hope I can keep the level up and maybe even play better, because to beat Novak here is going to be an extremely difficult task.”
The win extended Zverev’s unbeaten streak to 12, after he walked away with the Western & Southern Open title earlier this month.
“I hope in two weeks’ time I’ll be on an 18-match winning streak,” he told the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
He faces Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain or Lucas Pouille of France in the second round.