Alexander Zverev targets his first win of the season when he comes up against former French Open semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato in the Australian Open first round on Tuesday.
Alexander Zverev ?? vs Marco Cecchinato ?? Match Info
Date: Tuesday January 21
Tournament: Australian Open R1
Court: Margaret Court Arena
Time: 8.30pm local time (9.30am GMT)
Alexander Zverev vs Marco Cecchinato Head-to-Head
Alexander Zverev vs Marco Cecchinato Match Preview
It’s been a nightmare start to the season for Zverev – can the seventh seed find his game, in particular his serve, in time for his opening round duel with Cecchinato in Melbourne on Tuesday?
While it wasn’t a bad season by any stretch of the season in 2019, Zverev admitted he was disappointed with how his year played out. The German repeatedly pointed to a messy off-court dispute with his former agent as the main reason for his dip in form, but there’s only so long you can use that as an excuse – and from what we saw at the ATP Cup at the start of 2020, he’s no closer to finding a solution.
Zverev, who’s lone title in 2019 came at the 250 meet in Geneva, lost all three of his matches at the ATP Cup to Alex de Minaur, Denis Shapovalov and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Losing to those three players is certainly no immediate cause for concern, but it was the manner in which Zverev went down, with the German firing double faults left, right and centre, while he was almost in tears during the change of ends as he desperately searched for a solution – and his father was pictured with his eyes watering.
There’s no beating around the bush – Zverev had the yips on serve, possibly the worst I’ve seen since the days of Anna Kournikova or more currently Sara Errani for a top player. Zverev has been hard at work on the practice court as a result – but will those intense training blocks be enough?
“I need to get my tennis back because how I was playing at the ATP Cup was just not going to be good enough to do well at a Grand Slam. I know that, my team knows that, my coaching staff knows that. The hours are in now. Now it’s just about getting the final preparations right,” Zverev said.
“This was more like a training block for me really than a preparation for a Grand Slam. But it’s also different: I’ve never been past a quarter-final at a Grand Slam. Maybe this will also be something new and something different and maybe it will work as well,” he added.
It’s great that Zverev thinks he can improve on his poor Grand Slam record in Melbourne, but first things first, and that’s navigating past someone who has a better result at a major in the first round.
Cecchinato, who has found his way back onto tour after being caught up in a match fixing scandal a few years ago, enjoyed his career-best season in 2018, becoming the lowest-ranked French Open semi-finalist since 1999 when he beat Novak Djokovic and David Goffin among others, while he also picked up his first two ATP titles in Budapest and Umag to break into the top 20 for the first time, peaking at No. 19.
The Italian started 2019 with a bang as he won his third ATP title on the clay of Buenos Aires in February and made the semi-finals of Doha in January, but he barely won matches for the rest of the season, going on respective 10 and five-match losing streaks throughout the season, while he was also forced to withdraw from his title defence in Budapest with illness, finishing 2019 at No. 71 in the world. Cecchinato has since dropped to No. 77 after losing in the first round of Doha and second round of Auckland to kick off his 2020 campaign. The 27-year-old has never won a match at the Australian Open in his career.
Alexander Zverev vs Marco Cecchinato Prediction
Zverev may be in all sorts right now, but this is a nice first round for him to ease his way into the tournament. Cecchinato does his best work on clay and hasn’t played his best tennis on any surface for quite some time now. Zverev needs to find a rhythm from the baseline and maybe take some pace off his first serve in order to build some confidence back up in that area and this is the perfect time for him to experiment with what works best. It would be a disaster if Zverev were to lose this one.