Alexander Zverev outlasted qualifier Darian King to kick off his US Open campaign.

Alexander Zverev is one of the hottest tennis players on tour right now. The young German had claimed titles in Montreal and Washington just prior to the US Open. He is even seeded 4th, his highest at a Grand Slam. His opening round match against unheralded qualifier Darian King should have been a mere formality. However, Zverev put up a lackluster performance to outlast King 7-6(9) 7-5 6-4 in 2 hours 49 minutes.

Not much was known about King prior to their first round encounter. The two had never met on the ATP professional tour, with King more prominent in the Challenger circuit. The 25 year old Barbadian turned pro in 2010 and is by no means an upcoming superstar. Being ranked 168 and facing a potential world number 1 in the bright lights on Arthur Ashe could be a very daunting task.

Not much was expected of King, who had only played a handful of matches on the ATP tour this year.

King however shocked the New York crowd by obtaining the early break in the first set to lead 2-1. He outplayed the German, forcing him into extended rallies. Zverev seemed very passive and was content with playing the Barbadian’s game. He did manage to break back and level the set at 3-3.

Both men exchanged breaks again, before taking the set to a tiebreak. King raced to a 5-3 lead and even held a few set points, but Zverev’s experience and composure paid off. He rallied back and claimed the first set 7-6(9) in 1 hour 21 minutes.

Could the rising star regain the form that saw him capture his second Masters 1000 title in Montreal?

At this point, you could be forgiven for thinking that King would fade away after losing the first set. The young man from Barbados however continued to employ his strategy of engaging his opponent in long rallies from the baseline. The mistakes began to mount for the young German, he in fact committed 62 unforced errors in the entire match.

Nonetheless, there were no breaks of serve in the second set till the 11th game. Ironically it was King who couldn’t keep the ball in the court during this crucial game. This inconsistent play saw Zverev get the break, before claiming the set 7-5 in 45 minutes.

It was well past midnight by this point, but the crowd remained lively as they continued to cheer both men. King in particular received a lot of support, perhaps the audience admired his relentless attitude. Even after going down a break early in the third set, he continued to entertain the crowd. Conversely, Zverev seemed eager to leave and he was able to raise his level of play. After breaking King following a spectacular backhand winner, he held on to win the match at approximately 2:04 am EST.

Zverev left much to be desired following his win. He appeared frustrated and downright uninterested at some points during the match. He will have to play more assertively if he hopes to defeat Croat Borna Coric; whom he faces in the second round. Coric defeated Jiri Vesely 7-6(5) 7-6(2) 6-2 earlier, and actually won his lone match against Zverev at Cincinnati in 2015.

Do you believe Zverev is exhausted from all the tennis he has played this summer? Perhaps the pressure is getting to him as he has never been seeded this high at a Grand Slam event. Sound off below in the comments section, and click here for a recap of all the action from Day 1 at the 2017 US Open.

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