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Lepchenko, Varvara

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Germany's Alexander Zverev started the season disheveled. He was 0-3 at the inaugural ATP Cup in Brisbane and harboured little confidence. But you wouldn't know by how he finished the first week of the Australian Open on Saturday night.The 22-year-old routed Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 to make the second week Down Under in back-to-back appearances. Zverev hit 34 winners to 22 unforced errors and quickly recovered anytime the 2009 semi-finalist grabbed momentum.Verdasco broke for a 4-2 lead in the third set as the Margaret Court Arena crowd backed the underdog. But Zverev broke twice more to finish in straight sets.The seventh seed was taking it to Verdasco, charging forward and showing no signs of nerves. For the second consecutive match, Zverev hit zero double faults. Last year, the German was plagued by service yips and averaged 5.9 double faults a match, second on Tour to only France's Benoit Paire.“I just enjoyed, it actually. I just enjoyed being out here,” Zverev said. “It was the best match I've played so far this week.” The two-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist has pledged all of his prize money to bushfire relief efforts if he wins his first major championship title this fortnight. Zverev said he feels as if he's playing for others this week, and he's enjoying himself.[MY POINT]“I'm as happy as I've ever been on the court,” Zverev said.He will next face 17th-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev, who improved to 11-0 in 2020 with a 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-4, 7-6(4) win against 11th seed David Goffin of Belgium.During the first two weeks of the season, Rublev won ATP Tour titles in Doha and Adelaide. Zverev leads their ATP Head2Head series 3-0 and has won all six sets they've played.

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