Following the Australian Open quarter-final defeat to Novak Djokovic, Alexander Zverev asked for the Rotterdam wild card, returning to this event for the fifth time and the first since 2018. Alexander was the quarter-finalist in 2016, but that will not be the case in this week's campaign following a 7-5, 6-3 loss to Alexander Bublik in an hour and 17 minutes. Bublik played terrible tennis in the Montpellier final three days ago against Alexei Popyrin in sets two and three, wasting the opportunity to chase the first ATP title and bouncing back in Rotterdam to oust world no. 7. It was the first meeting of two coevals, and the German had the advantage in both sets, forging a 4-2 lead in the first and 3-1 in the second set before the Kazakh bounced back to earn the third top-10 victory.
Zverev landed one ace and lost 40% of his games' points, facing nine break chances and giving serve away four times. Bublik suffered two breaks in the early stages of both sets, working hard to erase those and firing 21 winners and 26 unforced errors to seal the deal in straight sets and advance into the last 16. The Kazakh sprayed a forehand error in the first game to suffer a break at 15, followed by Zverev's hold at love in games two and four.
Alexander Bublik ousted Alexander Zverev in the first round in Rotterdam.
Bublik held after deuce in games five and seven to avoid an even bigger deficit and broke back at 3-4 thanks to Zverev's terrible volley at the net. Losing pace in his strokes, the German suffered another break at 5-6 when Bublik hit a smash winner at the net, sending the Kazakh in front after 43 minutes.
Starting all over, Zverev secured a break at 1-1 in set number two and held at 15 to confirm the advantage and move 3-1 in front. Bublik stayed focused, held at love in game five and pulled the break back at 2-3 thanks to Zverev's loose forehand. The Kazakh held at love in game seven and converted the fifth break opportunity in the next one after a lucky net cord winner. Serving for the victory, Bublik faced two break points in game nine and fended off both before converting the first match point that sent him over the top.