Relaxed Zverev in the zone at Aussie Open

Oliver Caffrey
German ace Alexander Zverev is looking cool, calm and collected as the Australian Open

Alexander Zverev may have unlocked the path to greatness after creating a better tennis-life balance to achieve his best result at a grand slam.

The 22-year-old German is not done at the Australian Open yet as he prepares for a semi-final showdown with fifth seed Dominic Thiem on Friday night.

Zverev did not dream he would be in this position after a nightmare lead-up to the first major of the year.

But struggling through three embarrassing defeats at the ATP Cup could actually have set him up for his impressive run at Melbourne Park.

The seventh seed said he had taken a more relaxed approach than at any previous grand slam.

Long touted for greatness, Zverev has faltered when it matters, with two French Open quarter-finals his best showings at majors before he beat Stan Wawrinka on Wednesday.

"I've done well at other tournaments. But the grand slams were always the week where I wanted it too much," Zverev said.

"I was doing things in a way too professional. I was not talking to anybody. I wasn't going out with friends. I wasn't having dinner.

"I'm doing much more things outside the court.

"I actually came into the Australian Open with absolutely no expectations because I was playing horrible.

"At the ATP Cup I was playing bad, and the weeks before."

Zverev started the Australian Open with a war of words with Nick Kyrgios, but is becoming a local fan favourite.

He has pledged to hand over all his prize money towards bushfire relief if he wins his maiden grand slam.

"(My parents) always said that money is something that should cause change in the world and should be put into a good thing, not keep it in a bank account and do nothing with it," Zverev said.

But to donate the $4.12 million, he will have to get past Thiem, who downed world No.1 Rafael Nadal in four sets.

Seven-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic awaits the winner, with the Serbian having never lost a final at Melbourne Park.

Thiem has a 6-2 record against Zverev, with the 26-year-old Austrian winning their last two matches.

However, Zverev can take solace in defeating Thiem in a 2018 final in Madrid.

"We have no secrets from each other," Thiem said.

"I mean, we played so many times, also on very special occasions already, at the ATP Finals, semis, French Open quarters.

"It's a nice rivalry we have. It's great that we add an Australian Open semi-final to this one."