Arab No1 Malek Jaziri matched his best grand slam performance by reaching the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.
The Tunisian world No56 beat talented Kazakh teenager Alexander Bublik 6-2, 6-3, 7-5 to set up a last-32 clash with Germany’s Mischa Zverev, who saved a match point en route to his 6-7(4), 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-6(7), 9-7 over No19 seed John Isner of the US.
Jaziri’s best major result also came in Melbourne when he reached the third round in 2015 before falling to Nick Kyrgios.
“It was not an easy match, the guy was motivated, he had nothing to lose, was serving very well,” Jaziri told Sport360 of Bublik, who had upset No16 seed Lucas Pouille in the opening round on Monday.
“I played well, I changed a lot the rhythm of the game, I was playing with a lot of variation.
“It was windy today and it wasn’t easy to play but the first two sets I was there in all the points, I was aggressive from the start.
“He’s a young guy, you have to be there since the beginning to put an impression and I felt like I did that well. In the third set I was down 3-5 but I came back after losing my concentration briefly. I’m happy with the win, it was very important for me.”
Jaziri is 2-0 at the Challenger level against Zverev but they haven’t faced off since 2014. Zverev, the older brother of the higher-ranked Sascha, was ranked 171 this time last year but has made a solid march up the standings and is up to No50.
“I think it won’t be an easy match. He’s playing different, more serve-and-volley, more aggressive in the game. He showed a lot of good results in the last few months. He’s a dangerous player,” said Jaziri of Mischa Zverev, adding that joining forces with his new coach Christophe Freyss has been great so far.
“I’ve been working hard, I feel like I have more experience at this level and I’m working with a coach who has a lot of experience as well. So it’s important for the next step for me and hopefully I will make it.”