On Wednesday, the organizers of the French Open finally meant well with the German tennis professionals.
After the Madames and Messieurs from Roland Garros had banished the three-time Grand Slam tournament winner Angelique Kerber to the small adjacent square number six in the first round, where almost more spectators had to stand in line outside than could watch the game inside, they were allowed to the best lady and the best gentleman in German tennis for the second round on the big stage: on the Court Philippe-Chatrier, the stadium with the largest sand court in the world.
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In terms of the result, the performances of Angelique Kerber and Alexander Zverev were successful, as both made it into the third round of the world's most important clay court tournament.
But how frighteningly laborious their victories came about does not give much hope for the further course of the tournament.
Zverev in particular offered the viewers a five-set drama in his 2: 6, 4: 6, 6: 1, 6: 2 and 7: 5 against the 21-year-old Argentinian Sebastian Baez.
Starting with the first round, in which not only the sand thrown up by the wind robbed him of his perspective, to a match point that was saved when the score was 4:5 in the fifth round to his first own match point, which he immediately converted after 3:36 hours of play.
After that, the 25-year-old from Hamburg couldn't quite explain how he had managed to turn the game around after being 2-0 down in sets for the third time in his career.
"There was nothing I could do except try to find a way," said Zverev.
The Grand Slam tournament champions Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have often achieved something like this.
The German added that he didn't want to compare himself to the big three.
At the beginning, the legs seemed limp, the right arm stiff, so that the Hamburg player hit the balls in rows elsewhere, but very rarely into the field.
As so often, the world number three directed his frustration at his father.
Alexander senior, back on the professional tour with his son after a six-month absence, looked unimpressed as usual.
After an early loss of serve in the second round, Zverev's gradual increase in performance was not enough to prevent the 0: 2 set deficit against the Argentinian, who played variably.
Gradually, however, stability returned to Zverev's game.
He became calmer and made fewer mistakes.
In the last three sets against the world number 36 Baez, whom he defeated in two sets at the Masters tournament in Rome two weeks ago, he almost showed his usual strength at times.
"I tried to fight," said the third in the world rankings.
After equalizing the set, the 170-centimetre man Baez didn't give in, but roused the audience to storms of enthusiasm with his fighting heart and his drop shots.
However, when he had match point after 3:24 hours and was served Zverev's serve on the forehand, he warped.
He speculated that the Argentine's wrist would become stiff with his best shot, said Zverev: "If it hadn't worked, I would have looked like an idiot.
That's how I'm a hero.” A hero in a full-distance drama.
After his opening victory in Paris over the Austrian Sebastian Ofner, the Hamburg player joked last Sunday that he liked to struggle over five sets in early Grand Slam tournament rounds, but this time he listened to his new coach Sergi Bruguera.
On Wednesday, however, there seemed to have been silence between the German and his Spanish coach.
Before Zverev's third round match against the American Brandon Nakashima on Friday, the two should definitely talk to each other again.
On the other hand, Angelique Kerber does not even have a trainer with whom she can exchange ideas.
There was a lot to talk about after the 6: 1 and 7: 6 (7: 2) success against Elsa Jacquemot.
The match against the nineteen-year-old, who is around 200 places behind Kerbers in the world rankings and was only allowed to play in the main draw thanks to a wildcard from the organizer, deserved a smaller place than the Court Chatrier.
The sporting level was modest, but in the end Kerber won thanks to her will to fight and the 40 unforced errors of the inexperienced Frenchwoman, who won the Roland Garros junior competition in 2020.
"I'm glad that I didn't go into a third set today and can now regenerate for a day and a half," said Kerber after the match: "I'll have to recover a lot." Against her upcoming opponent Alexandra Sasnowitsch, who played the English US -Open winner Emma Raducanu with 3: 6, 6: 1 and 6: 1, she has won both previous encounters, but each over three sets.
It's already over for Andrea Petkovic in Paris, she lost 1:6 and 6:7 to Belarusian Wiktoria Asarenka.
The soon to be 35-year-old from Darmstadt left open whether this second-round encounter was her last appearance at her favorite Grand Slam tournament.Keywords: