Alexander Zverev stuns Carlos Alcaraz to reach Australian Open semi-finals

‘Tired’ Daniil Medvedev battles into last four after long battle with Hubert Hurkacz

In these first few years of his young career, Carlos Alcaraz has relished making the impossible seem routine. He has performed at such a high level so consistently, learned from his mistakes at warp speed, and even when he has struggled, so often he has found solutions.

For once, he could not find a way. Despite a spirited comeback at the death, a pitiful start from the second seed left him with far too much to do against a stellar Alexander Zverev who maintained a high level across four sets, producing one of his best grand slam performances to win 6-1, 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4 and reach the semi-final of the Australian Open.

As a result, Zverev, the sixth seed, and the third seed Daniil Medvedev will duel for a spot in Sunday’s final. Earlier in the day, Medvedev maintained his composure in the uncomfortable Melbourne heat, holding on against a resurgent Hubert Hurkacz as he returned to the semi-finals in Melbourne with a 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win.

While Alcaraz entered Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday night heavily favoured to crush his lower-ranked opponent, their history underlined the potential danger ahead. Zverev held a narrow 4-3 record against Alcaraz. Most notably, the German played one of the best matches of his career to defeat Alcaraz at the 2022 French Open.


Zverev was in a similar mood to 2022, swinging freely against an opponent heavily favoured to beat him. Alcaraz, meanwhile, was shaky from the beginning, immediately handing over the first break with a disastrous, error-strewn opening service game.

Throughout Zverev served well, scrambled from behind the baseline, drawing errors with his defence and picked his moments well to move inside the baseline and attack. Alcaraz simply could not keep his error count down and finished the first set with two winners and 10 unforced errors. After seemingly starting to find his feet early in the second, the set fell away with haste, his unforced errors piling up again.

It was not until his last stand, with Zverev serving for the match at 5-3, that Alcaraz found a brief moment of inspiration. He played a brilliant return game to break, closing down the net to seal the break as the crowd erupted. As he pulled the German back to 5-5, then to a tie-break, his audience roared him on. He closed out the set with an astounding tie-break, snatching the set by relentlessly attacking and moving forward.

The momentum had flipped and Alcaraz spent much of the fourth set throwing down everything he had. Under immense pressure from the beginning, Zverev continued to serve brilliantly, he hung with Alcaraz in the frantic cat-and-mouse rallies that the Spaniard initiated and held on there long enough for Alcaraz’s level to fall as he clinched a dramatic win.

On the eve of his first-round match at the Australian Open, the Berlin criminal courts announced that Zverev will face a public trial from May 31st for charges of physically abusing a his former girlfriend Brenda Patea and damaging her health. The trial is currently scheduled to intersect with the French Open and Wimbledon. Zverev denies the charges.

In the first men’s semi-final of the day, Medvedev was on his way to a convincing four-set victory over Hurkacz with a break in the fourth set before Hurkacz dug deep to retrieve the break and going on to force a fifth set. Medvedev began to struggle badly in the heat as the match extended, but he found a way through.

A dramatic 11 days have seen Medvedev endured tough five-setters, battles in the suffocating heat and a match that lasted until 3.40am. “After every match I’m in the locker room I’m destroyed,” he said. “But then we do a good job. One day off is probably enough to feel good the next day. So far, so good in the beginning of the matches, and that’s what matters.”

In the women’s singles, Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska is two wins away from emulating Emma Raducanu after beating Linda Noskova of the Czech Republic to reach the Australian Open semi-finals.

Raducanu is the only qualifier ever to win a Grand Slam title but Yastremska increased her tally of wins in Melbourne to eight with a 6-3 6-4 victory on Rod Laver Arena.

In the last four, Yastremska will take on 12th seed Zheng Qinwen, who will also contest her first Slam semi-final.

The 21-year-old, the first player from China to make it this far since Li Na won the title 10 years ago, lost the first set on a tie-break to Russia’s Anna Kalinskaya but hit back strongly to win 6-7 (4) 6-3 6-1. – Guardian