TennisSection previews the 2023 Australian Open as Alexander Zverev takes on Juan Pablo Varillas in the Round of 128 on Tuesday, January 17, 2023.
Alexander Zverev has only lost a first-round match at the Australian Open once in his career. Will the returning German succumb to another early setback in his comeback when he takes Peruvian qualifier Juan Pablo Varillas?
Alexander Zverev returned to full-time action at the turn of the year. The German shut down his 2022 season following that horrific ankle injury he picked up in his match against Rafael Nadal at last year’s French Open. But the signs are positive, and Zverev has not looked in any spot of bother physically playing at the United Cup. And he’s got a very cushy opener against Juan Pablo Varillas to ease himself into Grand Slam contention at the Australian Open.
Juan Pablo Varillas, meanwhile, enters this year’s Australian Open as a lucky loser. Despite losing to Yosuke Watanuki in the final round of qualifying, Varillas replaced the injured Marin Cilic who pulled out just a few days before the tournament’s start. Varillas is the most prominent Peruvian tennis player and last year came within a set of knocking out Felix Auger-Aliassime in the first round of the French Open.
Alexander Zverev and Juan Pablo Varillas have not played each other on the ATP Tour. Tuesday’s match at the Australian Open will be their first official meeting. It will be a tall order to expect Varillas to get anything from this match. I think the biggest question mark in Zverev’s comeback journey was whether his movement was up to the task. But so far he’s looked fit as a fiddle.
Free Tennis Prediction and Pick: Alexander Zverev in 3 sets
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