Alexander Zverev has issued a warning to his tennis rivals with a stunning four-set upset of World No.2 Carlos Alcaraz in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. In what was one of the most commanding performances of the German's career to date, Zverev blew the two-time grand slam winner off the court in the first two sets, before surviving a mid-match comeback by the Spaniard to prevail 6-1 6-3 6-7 (2-7) 6-4.
Sixth seed Zverev broke his more fancied opponent twice in the opening set to race away with the opening stanza in under thirty minutes. Alcaraz had no answers to Zverev, who was landing close to 90% of his first serves and rarely gave the 20-year-old Spaniard a sniff.
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Nine commentator and tennis legend Jim Courier said: “There’s only been two rallies over nine shots. Alcaraz has won both of those and he’s just getting absolutely crushed in the mid-range points. 11-1 in the five-shot rallies. I’ve never seen Alcaraz get dominated like this in general but certainly in those points where it starts to become more athletic, the longer the points.”
Zverev saved a couple of break points early in the second set and then went on to break Alcaraz again, pushing the Spaniard around the court with ease. He held easily for 5-3 and to that point had made 35 of his 39 first serves. “I have called a lot of Zverev’s matches over his career,” Todd Woodbridge said on Nine, “I feel that this hour, an hour and six minutes that they have been out on court is possibly the best I’ve seen him strike the ball.”
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The German again scored a crucial break in the second stanza to help him take a two-sets-to-love lead in just one hour and 11 minutes. The one-sided nature of the contest and the level of Zverev's game left fans and commentators gobsmacked. “This scoreline is shocking to say the least,” Courier added. “It continues to be a ridiculous level of tennis from Zverev across the board especially with first serve.”
Zverev kept his foot on the throttle in the third set and came within a game of knocking off Alcaraz in straight sets after leading 5-2. However, the German admitted that nerves played their part as the young Spaniard launched an incredible comeback to take the third set in a tiebreak. Zverev ultimately re-established his dominance in a tighter fourth set before clinching the victory to set up a semi-final showdown with third seed Daniil Medvedev, with Woodbridge describing it as "the finest win" of Zverev's career.
— Phoenix (@anas081081) January 24, 2024
WOW. I can't believe Zverev bested Alcaraz. 😮
— Marshon Gattimore (@RJPJR) January 24, 2024
I can't believe I'm witnessing the same alcaraz who was insane the last week
— saad (@hiiii_sseulgi) January 24, 2024
Shocked. Thought Alcaraz would routine Zverev easily. Rough run since Wimbledon, for a player of his caliber.
— Runar Hansson (@runarhansson) January 24, 2024
Alcaraz getting schooled by Zverev who even until the last round was involved in 5 set matches and supposedly struggling. Im quite frankly shocked and didnt see this coming 😅
— Bharat_U (@DjokerGunner99) January 24, 2024
Alexander Zverev halts comeback from Carlos Alcaraz
"We're all human," Zverev said about his third set slip-up. "It's a great honour to play against guys like him and then when you're so close to winning, obviously your brain starts going and it's not always helpful.
"I fought back quite well in the fourth set, didn't let go and then very happy to finish the match." Despite his comeback falling short, Alcaraz was content with his run to his quarter-finals in Melbourne after previously never making it beyond the third round.
"I'm sad with my level today because I have been playing good tennis ... but in general I leave the tournament happy," he told reporters. Quarter-final of a grand slam is good. It's not what I'm looking for but it's not bad."
The win was the first for Zverev over a top-five ranked opponent at grand slam level and equalled his best result at Melbourne Park. The German's semi-final opponent on Friday will be Medvedev, who overcame Polish ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 in a taxing quarter-final win that the Russian admitted left him "destroyed".
Medvedev has a 11-7 winning record over Zverev and beat him five out of the six times last year, including at the season-ending ATP Finals last November. "He's been kicking my ass a lot over the last year or so," said Zverev. "But maybe this will be it, this will be place." The other men's semi-final will see Italian fourth seed Jannik Sinner trying to topple Novak Djokovic, who is aiming for an 11th Australian Open title and record 25th grand slam singles crown.
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