Tennis: Wasteful Zverev advances after five-set battle

Zverev celebrates after defeating Jeremy Chardy of France.
Zverev celebrates after defeating Jeremy Chardy of France.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MELBOURNE (REUTERS) - Germany's Alexander Zverev wasted a flurry of opportunities before securing a 7-6(5) 6-4 5-7 6-7(6) 6-1 win over unseeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy on Thursday (Jan 17) to book a place in the Australian Open third round.

Zverev, known as Sascha, is ranked fourth in the world and has emerged as the leader of tennis's next generation of men's players, underlined by victories over Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic en route to his maiden ATP Finals triumph in November.

But he is yet to challenge seriously at a Grand Slam and will have to guard against profligacy if he is to progress deep into the tournament at Melbourne Park.

"I think if you go five sets, it's always energy consuming, especially today, being two sets to love up, then two sets all," Zverev told reporters.

"A lot of nerves involved, as well."

The 21-year-old served 13 double faults, racked up 52 unforced errors and managed to convert only five of the 17 break point opportunities he had.

Zverev looked set for an easy mach after taking a two-set lead and with a flurry of break points in the third set. But he wasted four chances to break and lost his serve to surrender the third set.

"I thought the match was very high quality, high level. Jeremy started playing really, really well in the third and fourth set," Zverev added.

"I knew if I stayed strong, if I keep doing what I'm doing, I'll get my chances. I actually had my chances in all sets. Didn't manage to break. Matches can turn around quickly. I'm just happy to kind of be in the third round."

Frenchman Chardy, ranked 36th, won the fourth set in a tiebreak after Zverev wasted four more break-point opportunities in the seventh game.

Chardy ran out of steam in the final set as his errors mounted and Zverev cantered to victory in three hours and 46 minutes.

He next plays local wildcard Alex Bolt, who stunned 29th-seeded Frenchman Gilles Simon 2-6 6-4 4-6 7-6(8) 6-4.

Zverev said he did not know much about his next opponent.

"His journey is quite amazing. He's playing really good tennis right now. Obviously, being in the third round, beating Gilles Simon, which is never easy," the German said.

"I'm happy for him. But in two days' time, I'll be playing him. I'll do everything I can to prevent him going further."