Zverev wins his opener in Australia a day after he's ordered to stand trial in assault case in May
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Olympic tennis champion Alexander Zverev won his opening match at the Australian Open on Tuesday, a day after being ordered to stand trial later this year in an assault case in Germany.
The sixth-seeded Zverev dropped the first set before rallying to beat fellow German Dominik Koepfer 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-3 in a night match on Melbourne's Margaret Court Arena.
The 26-year-old Zverev is accused of assaulting a woman during an argument in Berlin in May 2020. He has denied the accusation.
German news agency dpa reported Monday that the trial will start on May 31, which is during the French Open. However, it cited a court spokesperson who said Zverev will not need to make a personal appearance and can be represented by a lawyer.
A court in Berlin issued a penalty order in October ordering Zverev to pay fines amounting to 450,000 euros ($493,000), but the player contested the ruling which meant the case went to trial instead.
Penalty orders are used in Germany as a means of resolving some criminal cases without going to trial, if the suspect does not contest the order.
The men’s tennis tour ruled last January that Zverev would not face disciplinary action, after its own investigation into domestic abuse allegations against him found “insufficient evidence” to substantiate the claims.
Zverev is on the ATP's player council and intends to continue in that role. Other members of the council were asked for comment but declined.
Asked about it at his post-match news conference, Zverev said he believed he retained the confidence of the playing group.
“Nobody has said anything to me. I don’t have a reason not to believe that,” he said.
Responding to speculation that some people questioned his capacity to hold a leadership position, Zverev said: "Like who? Journalists are saying that. Some are actually interested more in this story to write about and more about the clicks than the actual truth."
Zverev was a finalist at the U.S. Open in 2020, won the men’s singles Olympic gold medal in 2021 and is sixth in the rankings.
He led Germany to victory in the United Cup team tournament in Sydney last week, but said playing a Grand Slam tournament in Melbourne was very different.
Zverev said he was seriously tested by Koepfer and was struggling for rhythm, but added: “You’ve got to focus on yourself, your own shots.”
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