Infosys | Officil digital innovation partner
Infosys | Officil digital innovation partner

Zverev rallies against Wawrinka to reach first semi

Alexander Zverev has finally broken his quarterfinal shackles with the German denying former champion Stan Wawrinka at Melbourne Park to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal.

For years, the 22-year-old had been touted as the man next most likely to challenge the Big Three’s reign at the majors, but with only two quarterfinals to show from his first 19 attempts, he at last broke a hoodoo on Wednesday.

The No.7 seed flouted a first-set blitzing to power home 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-2 against the three-time major champion at Rod Laver Arena.

MORE: AO2020 men’s draw

In reaching the final four, he became the first German man since Tommy Haas at Wimbledon 10 years ago to progress as far at a major.

“Feels awesome … I’ve done well in other tournaments, in World Tour Finals, won Masters, but could never make that breakthrough at a Grand Slam,” Zverev said.

“You cannot imagine what this means to me, I hope this will be the first of many … I did win the World Tour Finals. If I get to the finals this will be the greatest day of my life, but I like titles.”

6127543413001
29 Jan 20
Stan Wawrinka vs. Alexander Zverev - Match Highlights (QF) | Australian Open 2020

Sascha stuns Stan in four

Video

Zverev admitted he imagined himself fronting the press as a straight-sets loser when Wawrinka blasted his way through the opening set in just 26 minutes.

It was the first set of the tournament the German had dropped but his Achilles heel throughout his three defeats at the ATP Cup in Brisbane – his serve – made a sudden and timely switch to become his primary weapon.

He closed out the second set without conceding a point on serve throughout.

“I worked very hard on it, worked a lot on it,” Zverev said. 

“I hope you can see in ATP Cup I was horrible, but this is a Grand Slam and this is where you’re meant to play your best tennis and I’ve been doing that … my energy picked up a little bit.

“I was not quite used to his ball. I’d always played nights so I needed a set to get used to it.”

A champion at Melbourne Park six years ago, the 34-year-old Wawrinka had already fought back in two of his previous three rounds in three-and-a-half-hour epics – in the second round against Andreas Seppi and in his previous match over No.4 seed Daniil Medvedev.

Wawrinka dug deep on serve, saving two set points at 3-5 in the third set with a crisp crosscourt backhand, but the German unleashed a 219km/h ace down the T to bring up a third chance to inch ahead.

He took a two sets to one lead, finishing the set with an 83 per cent first-serve percentage, a benchmark he thought unattainable on the eve of his fifth Australian Open.

Despite remarkable turnarounds against Seppi and Medvedev, Wawrinka’s had exhausted his quota of escape acts this Australian Open.

There would be no sudden revival sparked from a trademark thumping backhand or curling pass as he quickly fell behind a double break in the fourth set.

And there would be no stumble with the finish line in sight from Zverev as he served out a memorable victory.

t_wawrinka_290120_43
A disappointed Stan Wawrinka walks off the court

The 22-year-old had just one wish for his prospective semifinal opponent – either 19-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal or fifth seed Dominic Thiem.

“I’ll have a cold glass of Coke with the air con on in my hotel room and hopefully watching them play for six hours. Hopefully they’ll get as tired as they can.”

Sascha stuns Stan in four

Video
t_wawrinka_280120_67

Honesty the best policy for surging Stan

Features

Battle thoughts: Zverev v Wawrinka

Video