Alexander Zverev is getting his fair share of top opposition already this season. The next of these will be 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic. The no. 2 seed faces Zverev in Montpellier at approximately 8.30pm local time (7.30pm BST.)
Often for a rising youngster, playing the best that tennis has to offer is an exciting learning experience. But sometimes, it can get a little frustrating. Alexander Zverev, Germany's 18-year-old rising star, has been dotting around the 80 to 90 mark in the rankings for a good few months. Having reached multiple ATP semi and quarterfinals, the teenager with the tremendous serve and impressive groundstrokes has already made his mark on the professional tour, but has seen peers such as Borna Coric and Hyeon Chung streak ahead of him up the rankings ladder.
In Melbourne, Zverev was drawn against no. 2 seed Andy Murray in round one, and was ejected from the competition 6-1 6-2 6-3. And now, just two weeks later, he has drawn another second seed early on – in the form of world no. 13 Marin Cilic.
Croat Marin Cilic has not actually made a great start to the new season. At 3-2 entering his third event of the year, with a disappointing Australian Open campaign ending in straight sets to Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut. This can either dent his confidence heading into the Open Sud de France – or motivate him to do better.
In one respect, Alexander Zverev has an advantage over his more experienced opponent heading into Wednesday's second round match. The German has already won a match in Montpellier, triumphing 6-7(3) 6-4 7-5 over Italy's Luca Vanni. While Cilic will be the fresher of the two when their second round match dawns, he should not be the more in-tune with the French hard-courts.
Nevertheless – on top of his experience, and Grand Slam title - Marin Cilic possesses the most key advantage against his no. 85 ranked opponent. The 6'6” giant – measuring at the exact same height as his forthcoming foe – has won his only previous meeting with Zverev. This encounter came in the Summer of last year, in the quarterfinals of Washington, where a narrow result went the way of the higher ranked player: 7-5 7-6(3).
Having come so close before, can Alexander Zverev upset the no. 2 seed at the Open Sud de France? The clash is live at approximately 8.30pm local time (7.30pm BST.)