Salem Radio Network News Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Sports

Tennis-Zverev soaks up the boos after beating home player Millman

By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Alexander Zverev shrugged off a rowdy centre court crowd at a floodlit Rod Laver Arena to sail into the third round of the Australian Open with an impressive 6-4 6-4 6-0 win over local journeyman John Millman.

The rangy German appeared determined to belt the cover off the ball through the two-hour romp, and world number 89 Millman was powerless to withstand the firepower despite enjoying rowdy support in the terraces.

“I feel good, I won. I could really feel that you guys have been in lockdown for two years,” third seed Zverev joked in his courtside interview of the reception.

“It was really an amazing atmosphere. Hopefully it will stay the same and get even louder for the next two matches.”

Now an Olympic champion after claiming the singles gold in Tokyo, Zverev has his sights set on breaking into the Grand Slam club in the absence of the deported Novak Djokovic.

Late last season, Zverev declared himself part of a likely “Big Three” in 2022 with world number one Djokovic and U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev.

He certainly looked the part as he ramped up the pressure in the third set, thrashing the Australian into submission with his thumping forehand through a series of baseline battles.

Firing a two-handed backhand rocket down the line to raise match point, Zverev claimed the match with a huge first serve to set up a third round match with Moldovan qualifier Radu Albot.

Having dumped the local boy out, Zverev drew plenty of boos from terraces but said he was happy for any kind of reaction so long as fans could be at stadiums in the post-pandemic era.

“I’m prepared that everybody will hate me after the match,” he said of beating Aussies at Melbourne Park.

“Hopefully I’ll get a lot more boos… It doesn’t matter whether you’re for me or against me.

“I enjoy the atmosphere, I enjoy the noise.”

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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