Olympic champion Alexander Zverev has avoided another painful opening defeat in a difficult season.

The 25-year-old defending champion turned around the match against Croatian Marin Cilic at the Masters tournament in Madrid on Wednesday after losing the first set and prevailed 4:6, 6:4, 6:4. Zverev will meet Italian Lorenzo Musetti in the round of 16 at the clay-court event, which is worth 6.74 million euros.

At the tournament in Munich, Zverev had last failed directly in the round of 16 and also had to survive tricky situations against the former US Open champion Cilic (33) in Madrid. In the first set, the world number three was already ahead with a break, but lost four games in a row towards the end of the set. In the other two sets, Zverev did not let his lead be taken away, served confidently towards the end and converted the first match point with an ace after 2:17 hours.

After six titles including last year’s Olympic victory, the Hamburg native is still waiting for his first triumph this season and has only reached one final so far. Now the turnaround is to take place in Madrid before the French Open, which starts in two and a half weeks.

Nadal struggles against Kecmanovic – partially

The undisputed star of the tournament in Madrid is Rafael Nadal. The record Grand Slam winner had the hearts of the Spanish fans flying in his match against the up-and-coming Serb Miomir Kecmanovic. And the 22-year-old also challenged Nadal, especially in the second set, but still had to admit defeat to the clay court king with 1:6, 6:7 (4:7). Nadal will now play David Goffin from Belgium in the round of 16, who eliminated Botic van de Zandschulp (Netherlands) as a qualifier with 6:4, 6:2.