Dubai: There is no substitute to experience and Alexander Zverev used it to his advantage to overcome the challenge from in-form Jiri Lehecka to sneak in to the second round with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 win in the Dubai Tennis Championships on Monday.
“My game was not great at times and didn’t start the match very well, but found a way to win,” said the 25-year-old German, who rallied from a set down to avenge the loss he suffered at the hands of Lehecka in Sydney. “I first played Jiri back in Sydney and I had absolutely no chance in that match. I am happy that I have progressed and I have improved since then. He is playing amazing tennis.”
The Czech, smarting from a stunning loss at the hands of Andy Murray, who saved five match points to beat Lehecka in the Qatar Open semi-finals, started with an early break. The tenacious 21-year-old, ranked 47 in the world, then held his serve to win the set 6-4.
Zverev, who was also eliminated by Murray in the quarter-finals in Doha, regained his composure in the second. A service meltdown by the Australian Open quarterfinalist, serving three double faults when he was trailing 2-3, handed over the initiative to the German, who served out the set 6-3.
Zverev, the former world No 2, waited patiently for his young opponent to crack and that opportunity came when a frustrated Lehecka made several unforced errors to give the crucial break to the 2020 Olympic gold medallist, who waiting for it patiently.
Learning to be the best
The German for the first time in a while showed his vulnerability after taking a 4-3 lead. He conceded his serve after taking a 4-3 lead and then broke back to win the set 6-4.
“I am sure, I will be playing the next few matches much better. Sometimes that’s what makes the best players, finding a way out to win when you are not playing well. Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal], Novak [Djokovic] and Andy [Murray] did that during the last 20 years. I am trying to learn from them,” he said.