Alexander Zverev: ‘He made me feel awful’

Alexander Zverev

German No 1 Alexander Zverev was pushed to the limit in his first round clash with Kazakhstani counterpart Alexander Bublik.

Zverev dropped the first set and struggled to deal with the shotmaking and powerful serve of Bublik.

He would win through in the end though clinching a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory two minutes shy of the two-hour mark.

Zverev said that Bublik had done his homework and made it very tough for him to play his game as he would have liked.

“It felt awful at times to be honest, but he made me feel awful,” Zverev said. “Tactically he played well, he didn’t let me play my game at all. He didn’t let me have my rhythm and he almost won the match, just a few points here and there.

“I have had two weeks of practise now. It is the most natural surface for me. It usually takes me five or 10 minutes to get used to a clay court, but this year was a bit different. I needed to get the injury out of my head. I needed to get used to sliding again.”

Zverev was competing on clay for the first time since his dreadful injury at Roland Garros last season.

He has aimed to ensure that he can get results even when he isn’t playing his best tennis, as he looks to emulate the greats of the game.

“Sometimes that’s what makes the best players… If you’re not playing well, you sometimes have to find a way to win,” Zverev said.

“That’s what Roger, Rafa, Novak, Andy did throughout the last 20 years, so kind of trying to learn from them.”

Zverev has admitted that he is finding it difficult to reach the same level of physical fitness after injury even of his injury is fully healed.

“My foot is healthy, but I’m not at the physical level that I was,” Zverev told reporters earlier this year

“I’m not as fast. Definitely my conditioning is not as good as it was. So I think I still have a long way to go to there.”

Zverev’s win over Bublik in Monte Carlo is his first in the head to head series between the two men with the Kazakhstan No 1 having won the previous two meetings.

He moves on to face Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in the Round of 32.

Bautista Agut himself had to survive a three-setter against lucky loser Filip Krajinovic to reach the second round.

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