Andy Murray and Alexander Zverev will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers in official tournament action when they clash in round one of the Australian Open on Tuesday. They did, however, face each other earlier this month when Great Britain battled Germany in the Hopman Cup. That team competition in Perth saw Murray take care of Zverev 6-3, 6-4 as the Brits got the best of the Germans.
If Zverev wanted to exact some revenge on his opponent, this is not exactly the setting in which he would pick to do so. Although Murray has never triumphed in Melbourne, his success is commendable. The second-ranked Scot has finished runner-up on four occasions at this event–2010, 2011, 2013, and 2015. He has not lost prior to the quarterfinals since 2009. Based on current form, there is no reason why that trend should not continue. Murray wrapped up his 2015 campaign by leading Great Britain to the Davis Cup title.
While Murray was in London last November as a World Tour Finals participant, Zverev was there to accept his ATP Star of Tomorrow award for being the youngest man in the top 100. The 18-year-old comes in at No. 83 in the world after picking up 14 of his 18 career ATP-level match wins in 2015.
“I know him reasonably well,” Murray said of Zverev during his pre-tournament press conference. “I practiced with him for the first time a couple years ago. I’ve seen him play a few matches since then. Obviously getting to play him a couple of weeks ago was good. I also practiced with him a couple of times during the week in Perth. He’s a big guy, obviously, for his age. Of the young guys coming through, (he is) by far the tallest of them–which has obviously benefits.
“He’s got a very good game. He serves well. For a big guy, (he) moves pretty well, too. He’s obviously improving all the time. He finished last year well, too. It will be a tough match.”
But how tough? Probably not tough enough for Murray to lose a set. This is one of the No. 2 seed’s favorite tournaments and he has plenty of momentum on the heels of his Davis Cup heroics.
Prediction – Murray in straight sets