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ZVEREV SHOCKS ALCARAZ TO CHARGE INTO SEMIS



German 6th seed, Alexander Zverev has put in an almost flawless display to shock 2nd seed and highly favoured opponent, Carlos Alcaraz, 6-1, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4, despite a late charge from the Spaniard. 


Reaching his first semi-final in Australia since 2020, Zverev said he was happy to be back in the semis of a slam and drew on his injury at the 2022 French Open, which held him back while he was at the top of his game.


“I’m obviously extremely happy to be back where I am and winning these kind of matches, and, you know, giving myself the chance again. Because last year, for the first part of the season, or actually throughout the year, I wasn’t a slam contender.”


After another late start following a tightly fought women’s quarter-final, Alcaraz and Zverev got underway after 10 pm, under the watchful eye of ‘Rocket’ Rod Laver. 


Coming out uncharacteristically slow, Alcaraz lost the opening three games in the blink of an eye, while Zverev came out firing, barely putting a foot wrong.


Finally holding serve at 3-1, the Spaniard let out his first big, ‘Vamos’, trying to pump himself up.


Zverev, meanwhile, didn’t let up, combining big first serves, consistent groundstrokes and successful net forays to apply relentless pressure on the Spaniard. 


The unforced errors continued to pile up for Alcaraz, as Zverev took full advantage, sealing the set in under 30 minutes to a stunned crowd. 


Expectedly, Alcaraz lifted his level in the second to make a match of it, exciting the crowd with his potent weaponry. 


Zverev’s level remained high, however, as he broke the Spaniard in the always dangerous seventh game. 


Alcaraz’s shakey forehand resurfaced, throwing in another very poor game, with some strange decision-making, looking unsure of himself at times.


The 20-year-old Spaniard finally surrendered the set, with an ill-advised Federer-esque forehand slice that landed wide, attempting to wrong-foot the big German.


Alcaraz’s bizarre decision-making continued in the third set, as Alcaraz just couldn't find his range. 


The unforced error count differential was a damning stat, with Alcaraz hitting twice the amount of errors as his German counterpart. 


Zverev continued to be clinical on serve, keeping his first serve percentage in the high 80s throughout the match.


Indeed, the German's stat was nearly flawless across the board, which only made the stark contrast of Alcaraz’s lacklustre performance all the more evident. 


Then, suddenly, a spark. 


With the crowd spurring him on, Alcaraz finally broke the seemingly impenetrable Zverev serve, giving himself the faintest of hopes. 


Playing the tie-break of his life, Alcaraz hit three ridiculous passing shots, alongside some huge forehands as Zverev could only watch in dismay, sending the crowd into a frenzy.


“The crowd, and the way that they bring energy to me, it was crazy. I was down, totally down, and they started, or didn’t stop supporting me, so it was crazy. Without them, [I] probably would [have] lost in three sets,” Alcaraz relayed to the First Serve after the match.


Opening with two breaks of serves in the fourth set, both players then tightened the screws, raising the intensity and quality of their shots. 


It took until the ninth game of the set to see another break, and this time it was the Spaniard who threw in a sloppy service game, gifting Zverev the break.


The German dutifully closed out the match in the next game to a slightly anti-climatic note, with many hoping for a fifth set.


Zverev will next face arch-nemeses, Daniil Medvedev, who holds an 11-7 H2H advantage, although, oddly, this will be the first time the pair have met at a grand slam. 


Speaking of his opponent, Zverev said he expects a tough match against Medvedev.


“He’s obviously extremely difficult to play. No question about it. He’s one of the best players in the world right now.


“But obviously I’m happy in the position I am, and I’m going to do everything I can to with that match on Friday”


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