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Melbourne | Zverev and Djokovic kept out late

It was a late night for both Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic and they no doubt retired to their beds relieved as well as fatigued.

He's caused so much damage to all the top guys in the world and he showed it again today, he's a great fighter, great tennis player, great person as well. Alexander Zverev

Zverev was kept on court for five sets by Jeremy Chardy but he eventually prevailed over the Frenchman 7-6(5) 6-4 5-7 6-7(6) 6-1 to at least repeat his best result at grand slams, namely reaching the third round.

But if he is to progress any further and realise his potential as fourth seed, he will have to tighten up his game. Fortunately perhaps, he faces the Aussie wildcard Alex Bolt in the next round, a player he should be able to sweep aside.

Getting through a tough match may well have honed his play and mind and prepare him for the challenges ahead.

“What an amazing match, Jeremy fought so hard he’s an unbelievable player,” said Zverev. “He’s caused so much damage to all the top guys in the world and he showed it again today, he’s a great fighter, great tennis player, great person as well.”

But he shouldn’t have been allowed back into the match for Zverev had command over his opponent as he served well and used his powerful strokes to good effect for the first two sets.

But then his frailty in big matches returned despite Chardy looking overwhelmed in the third set as e produced a string of errors while serving to stay in the set, letting the 31-year-old Frenchman pull one set back and then levelling in the fourth with some excellent deft net play.

Zverev finally regained his focus in the decider, breaking a now visibly tiring Chardy in the opening game to run off with the victory.


Novak Djokovic chases down a ball

Meanwhile on Rod Laver Arena Novak Djokovic was harassed by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga but held on to beat the Frenchman 6-3 7-5 6-4 for his place in round three where Denis Shapovalov awaits.

The world No.1 beat Tsonga for his first grand slam title in 2008 and said he remembered that very well, especially when the pair walked out onto the Arena.

“You could feel the tension on court at the beginning. We felt a lot of emotion, but we tried to play a great game,” said Djokovic.

A lot of water has passed in those intervening years with Djokovic going on to amass 14 grand slam titles and Tsonga suffering a series of injury setbacks which prevented him from repeating that run to a major final.

Currently ranked 177 the 33-year-old is on the comeback trail after missing seven months of the 2018 season following left knee surgery that saw his ranking plummet outside the top 200.

“It’s always tough to play Jo. He has struggled with injury, and his ranking doesn’t do him justice in my eyes.”

Rain delays earlier in the day meant that the second-round showdown began at 10.37pm on Thursday and finished at 12.41am local time on Friday after two hours and four minutes of play.

Djokovic thanked the fans for staying for the match. “It’s almost 1am,” he said, remarking: “But I don’t feel like sleeping.”


Despite the clock confirming it is well past midnight, Novak Djokovic finds time to sign autographs




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