Even though Zverev claimed the gruelling 68-minute opener, his rhythm was still off. Down a break at 2-3 the 22-year-old carved an acute volley and crisp backhand passing shot to wrestle back the momentum, claiming four successive games. “Let’s go” Zverev bellowed towards the stands, two sets in the ascendancy.
> VIEW THE INFOSYS STATS +
Millman, a 2018 US Open quarter-finalist, had never won a main-draw match at Roland-Garros in three previous attempts, but was undeterred. The world No.56 capitalised upon loose service games from Zverev and motored through the third set.
Zverev reset and gained a 2-0 lead, however, his serve faltered once again with an 11th double fault, opening the door for Millman. The Australian was engaged in every point, hustling at the baseline.
His relentless work ethic was rewarded, punishing passive play from Zverev and at one stage winning 12 of 13 points to give his comeback credentials real merit. Zverev erased a set point, but couldn’t withstand Millman’s momentum in the tie-break.
Locked at 3-3 in the fifth, Zverev dropped his racquet mid-rally and still recovered to take the point. That appeared to galvanise the German; he curled a courageous lob over Millman to chalk up the pivotal break.
World No.148 Mikael Ymer awaits in the second round, an opponent Zverev remembers well from a 2015 clash.
“We played in Stockholm. It was a great match (Zverev claimed victory in three tight sets). Obviously he's improved a lot. Had a few very good matches here. Came through qualifying,” Zverev said.
“He has great rhythm, great confidence. It's going to be an interesting one. I know his brother (Elias) better than him. I actually did a training block this year with his brother. It's going to be a fun one.”