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'It's not easy coming back to sea-level, the ball barely reached the net,' says Alexander Zverev

Alexander Zverev on the stretch

Alexander Zverev says moving from the altitude of Madrid to the sea-level of Rome in a few days nearly caught him out in his opening match in Italy.

Zverev, who won his second Madrid Masters title just three days ago, faced qualifier Hugo Dellion in Rome, and after a shaky few games to start off with, he won comfortably 6-2, 6-2.

Although a clay surface, the Madrid Masters is widely known for its high altitude, which tends to suit good hard court players and big servers rather than clay court specialists.

Even the 'King of Clay' himself Rafael Nadal has only won the Madrid Masters four times as opposed to his success at other Masters clay events - Rome (9 titles) and Monte-Carlo (11 titles.)

And after a highly successful Madrid campaign for Zverev, where he beat Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini to take the crown, the German said coming back down to sea-level took a little adjustment.

“I think it took a few games [to find my timing]. In the first game, the ball barely reached the net,” Zverev joked in an on-court interview.

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“It was obviously not easy coming from altitude [in Madrid] to sea level again, but I’m happy with this match. I'm happy with this win.

"Moving forward, of course I need to play even better, but for a first [match] this was a good performance from my side.”

Zverev has a successful record in Rome, winning the title in 2017 and reaching the final the year after, he will now face tennis veteran Kei Nishikori in the next round.

“In Madrid I played well against everybody, and I know I need to play just as well to have a chance,” Zverev said.

“Kei is a great player, especially on clay. We’ve played in Monte-Carlo [in 2018] and in Madrid, and it’s 1-1 on clay courts. I’m looking forward to another one."

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