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Tennis-Imperfect Zverev marches into fourth round in Melbourne

Randy Mancini 4 Jan 21
Australian Open
Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 21, 2022 Germany's Alexander Zverev celebrates winning his third round match against Moldova's Radu Albot REUTERS/Asanka Brendon Ratnayake

January 21, 2022

MELBOURNE (Reuters) -Alexander Zverev admitted he had been far from perfect but still eased into the fourth round of the Australian Open without dropping a set after a 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory over Radu Albot on John Cain Arena on Friday.

The world number three, still seeking the Grand Slam title that many have predicted for him, struggled with his serve at times but was always in full control against the 32-year-old Romanian qualifier.

“Radu is (in) great form at the moment, he’s obviously feeling the ball well, so happy to close it out in three sets,” said Zverev.

“Of course, I had much struggles on the court today, it didn’t feel perfect. But who is perfect? At the end of the day I won and I’m happy with that.”

The German needed just a single break of serve in each set to set up a last 16 clash against what is likely to be more formidable opposition in the shape of Denis Shapovalov.

Albot, who plays much of his tennis on the second-tier challenger circuit, was shaking his head at the quality of Zverev’s play as early as the third game but took the game to the third seed, particularly in the second and third sets.

Zverev always looked to have an extra gear when it mattered, however, and the world number 124 failed to convert any of the five break points he earned.

Olympic champion Zverev, who reached the quarter-finals last year at Melbourne Park and lost to Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals in 2020, remained on course for a potential meeting with Rafa Nadal in the last eight.

First, though, he must get past Shapovalov, a Canadian who has won two of their six previous meetings.

Joking with the crowd on the rowdiest court at Melbourne Park, the 24-year-old suggested a novel approach to his preparations for the tie.

“I’ll probably get drunk some time tonight, that’s very popular in Australia here, so why not try it out?” Zverev laughed.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney in Sydney, editing by Mark Heinrich)