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Zverev thwarts Alcaraz escape bid to make semis

  • Lee Goodall

Alexander Zverev has produced one of his most impressive Grand Slam displays, outlasting Carlos Alcaraz in four sets in a thrilling quarterfinal of Australian Open 2024 that ended in the early hours of Thursday morning.

MORE: Zverev v Alcaraz match stats

The German sixth seed failed to serve out the match when he was up two sets to love and 5-3 in the third, but steadied himself in the fourth set to finish the job 6-1 6-3 6-7(2) 6-4.

The result puts Zverev into his seventh Grand Slam semifinal, and his second at Melbourne Park. He will play Daniil Medvedev on Friday for a place in the final.

Earlier, world No.3 Medvedev had beaten Hubert Hurkacz in a four-hour, five-set thriller.

For the best part of two hours, it was all Zverev. But when Alcaraz broke back late in the third set and then played a brilliant tiebreak to force a fourth, many will have been wondering whether the young Spaniard was about to produce one of the great Grand Slam comebacks.

MORE: AO 2024 men's singles draw

Zverev did well to stay with Alcaraz early in that fourth set, and found another level from the eighth game onwards to finally finish it off after three hours and five minutes. It is Zverev’s first-ever win over a top-five opponent at one of the four majors.

Other than a slip late in the third set, Zverev stayed at a high level throughout

“When you’re up 6-1 6-3 5-2, you start thinking,” admitted Zverev, who survived two deciding tiebreaks earlier in the tournament against qualifier Lukas Klein and Britain’s Cameron Norrie.

“We’re all human, and it’s a great honour to play against guys like him. When you’re so close to winning, honestly, your brain starts going and it’s not always helpful. I’m happy that I got it in the end.

“I think I fought back quite well in the fourth set, didn’t let go, and then very happy that I finished the match.”

Zverev began his eighth meeting with Alcaraz brilliantly, hammering down big serves and immediately breaking the world No.2 on his way to a 3-0 lead.

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The German broke again for 5-1, and quickly served out a 29-minute set having missed only two first serves in the process.

It was more of the same in the second set, and when Alcaraz fell behind by a break early in the third he began to look uncharacteristically disheartened.

But for a brief period in the third set, Alcaraz looked out of answers

Just as it was seeming like it was going to be a surprisingly one-sided victory, Zverev started to feel the tension of the moment and Alcaraz sprang into life.

With Zverev serving for victory at 5-3, Alcaraz suddenly began playing with more energy and belief, and a winning short volley allowed him to break back for 4-5.

From 2-0 down in the third-set tiebreak, the world No.2 found another gear. Winners started flying off his strings, and he rattled off seven successive points to take the shootout 7-2.

After Zverev took a medical timeout for treatment to his right foot, the two traded breaks during the opening two games of the fourth before a crucial eighth game with Zverev serving at 3-4.

Sensing time was running out, Alcaraz threw everything at him during an astounding few minutes full of spellbinding long rallies, but Zverev held on impressively for 4-4.

From there, it was the German who was the one to raise his level once more, breaking for 5-4 and this time making no mistake as he served for a spot in the semis.