‘It helps’ – Madrid memories buoy Alexander Zverev to survive scare and avoid same fate as Aryna Sabalenka
Defending champion Alexander Zverev has his 2022 Madrid Open campaign up and running after recovering from a set down against former world number three Marin Cilic.
The German looked in danger of going out in his Madrid opener, just as women’s defending champion Aryna Sabalenka did last week, after losing the first set 6-4.
However, Zverev rallied to wrestle control of the match from the 2014 US Open champion, eventually coming out on top 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in
After the win, Zverev thought he started well, saying: “I actually feel like I got into the match very well.
“I just lost focus at 4-3 [up] when I was serving.”
The world number three went up an early break in the first set before surrendering the break back at 4-3, the second in a streak of five games for Cilic.
But the two-time Madrid champion dug deep to clinch the win in two hours and twenty minutes, sealing it with an ace.
Zverev added that the memories of past triumphs in the Spanish capital reminded him of his capabilities.
He continued: “It helps, especially being on this court (Manolo Santana Stadium).
“It’s always great to have those memories in the back of my mind.
“But I’ve got to focus on this year, on playing well, and hopefully I can do that this year.”
The defending champ progresses!
🇩🇪 @AlexZverev survives a tough opener against Marin Cilic, coming back to win 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.@atptour | @ATPTour_ES | #MMOPEN pic.twitter.com/o0yaCrRFC9
— #MMOPEN (@MutuaMadridOpen) May 4, 2022
As Zverev defends his 1000 ranking points from claiming the title last year, he will be hoping to keep Rafael Nadal from overtaking him to reclaim the world number three spot.
Next up, the 25-year-old awaits the winner of the ATP Next Gen showdown between Sebastian Korda and Lorenzo Musetti, ranked 30th and 63rd in the world respectively.
No matter which man he faces it will be a first ATP tour meeting between Zverev and his opponent.
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