Dirk Nowitzki still has a feeling for the right timing. “I’m going to look at Andy Murray’s fifth movement,” he said. Coincidentally, the former basketball greats of the Dallas Mavericks were sitting right next to the reporters’ seats at Margaret Court Arena. He grabbed his water bottle and disappeared for an hour and a half.
When Nowitzki returned, this time with his wife, he had good news to share. “Was great,” he said, smiling. He had looked at the fifth set in the first round game between Andy Murray and Matteo Berrettini. The Scot and the Italian had met in a spectacular match at the Rod Laver Arena, just a few steps away.
They had dueled for 4:54 hours before Murray, the 35-year-old with the artificial hip, defeated the Romans with 6: 3, 6: 3, 4: 6, 6: 7 (7) and 7: 6 (10: 6 ) had defeated. Back again, Nowitzki wanted to watch the final phase of Alexander Zverev’s match, with whom he is friends and had hit a few balls a few days ago. So he experienced the next game, which ended in his spirit, Zverev prevailed in a duel with the Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas 4: 6, 6: 1, 5: 7, 7: 6 (3), 6: 4. His performance was as inconsistent as the result.
“I’m tired, but extremely happy. I missed it. This win alone was worth the work of the last few months,” said Zverev after the success in his first Grand Slam appearance since the semifinals in Paris last year; at the French Open he twisted his ankle, tearing several ligaments. “I can’t wait for the rest of the tournament,” said Zverev. Nowitzki, meanwhile, will start his journey home this Wednesday, he revealed as he left. He had enjoyed a few nice days in Melbourne with his family.
Dirk Nowitzki watches in Melbourne and experiences exciting matches – also from Andy Murray
Zverev presented himself relaxed at the press conference, he often emphasized that he needs matches, now the 25-year-old has already secured a second-round game. He classified his performance factually. “There were moments when I played badly, for example in the third set my level dropped a lot,” said Zverev, “I played the best tennis in the tie-break of the fourth set. I kept my nerves together well in the fifth set .” Also positive: In Sydney, at the United Cup, when he had clearly lost two matches, he had said that he would get tired faster than before the injury.
Now he said: “I feel completely different than I felt in Sydney.” His right foot didn’t cause him any problems either, he even spoke of a “significant step forward”. But he should also improve in terms of play, at times he acted far too passively and without variants, and he had only seized the match again when he rediscovered the courage in himself. He now meets either the American Michael Mmoh or the French Laurent Lokoli.
Zverev’s victory was the only German success so far in the individual, after six defeats by six DTB representatives on Monday, Jan-Lennard Struff also lined up as a loser on Tuesday. The 32-year-old only exhausted his chances in the second set against the American Tommy Paul with a score of 1: 6, 6: 7 (6), 2: 6.
Tatjana Maria and Laura Siegemund have yet to compete, a downpour led to a long break on the outdoor courts. Challenging weather again. In the afternoon there was already a break for everyone who wasn’t playing in the large, covered stadiums. A three-hour break, mind you, because the heat rule, which is intended to protect the professionals, took effect at temperatures of around 35 degrees and high humidity.