Zverev wins first French Open match since ankle injury


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Alexander Zverev marked his return to Roland Garros with a victorious performance in the first round of the French Open, defeating Lloyd Harris in straight sets. This comeback comes exactly one year after Zverev suffered a severe ankle injury during the semi-finals.
In the previous season, the German player had to retire from a thrilling last-four encounter against Rafael Nadal due to the ankle injury.
The match had already surpassed three hours and was tied at 6-6 in the second set after Nadal won the first-set tie-break. Zverev's ankle injury, which resulted in torn ligaments, forced him to leave Court Philippe Chatrier in a wheelchair.
After the injury, Zverev did not participate in any further competitions in 2022.
This year, he returned to Roland Garros as the 22nd seed, a significant drop from his third seed position last year. Since his comeback to the ATP Tour, Zverev has struggled to regain his top form, which has impacted his seeding in this year's tournament.
Zverev's successful first-round victory reflects his determination and resilience in overcoming the challenges posed by the ankle injury. As he progresses in the tournament, fans and tennis enthusiasts will be eager to see if he can recapture his best form and make a strong impression at this year's French Open.
But the former US Open finalist had enough to beat South African Harris 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/0), 6-1.
"It's nice to be back. I've marked this day in bold on my calendar since last year," Zverev said.
"I was obviously very disappointed with how that tournament ended for me (last year).
"That's why I think I appreciate even more when I play in a full stadium and the crowd is behind me."
Zverev went out in the first round in 2017 and needed five sets to win his opening tie at Roland Garros in both 2019 and 2021.
"No (not happy with his performance). But I'm happy that I won in three sets. Normally I start with five-set matches so I'm happy to win in three."
Zverev will next face Slovakia's Alex Molcan as he tries to reach the third round for a sixth straight year.
He came back to the Tour at the start of 2023 but has since slipped from 12th to 27th in the rankings.
Zverev, who has won three of his five Masters titles on clay, failed to reach the quarter-finals in each of Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome this season.
"Get some more wins. Get six more wins in the next two weeks," said the Olympic champion when asked what he wants to improve. AFP