Zverev negotiates 'tricky' first-round tie in Halle

France's Gael Monfils returns the ball to France's Pierre-Hugues Herbert during their first round tennis match at the ATP Open tennis tournament in Halle, western Germany, on Monday. — AFP

HALLE WESTFALEN, Germany — German star Alexander Zverev said he needed more practice on grass after beating Dutchman Robin Haase 6-4, 7-5 to reach the second round of the ATP tournament in Halle on Monday.

Second seed Zverev came back from 5-2 down in the second set to record his first grass court victory of the season, following an early exit in Stuttgart last week.

"The start of the grass season is always a bit tricky. You need practice to get used to the conditions," said Zverev.

World No. 5 Zverev, who won the ATP Finals in London last year, is among the favorites in Halle alongside nine-time winner Roger Federer

Federer faces Australia's John Millman in his first-round game on Tuesday, while Zverev can now prepare for a second-round clash with American Steve Johnson, who beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 6-3 earlier in the day.

"Steve is someone who has a very good serve and is very good on grass. There are no easy matches here," said Zverev.

Third seed Karen Khachanov is also in the second round after beating Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. France's Pierre-Hugue Herbert sprung a minor surprise as he beat veteran compatriot Gael Monfils 7-6 (8-6), 6-4.

Elsewhere, third Moldova's Radu Albot came from behind to win 5-7, 6-1, 6-4 over Australia's Matthew Ebden and Portugal's Joao Sousa recorded a 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 win over Poland's Hubert Hurkacz. — AFP