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Melbourne | Zverev finally breaks major barrier

Melbourne | Zverev finally breaks major barrier

Alexander Zverev has reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open for the first time, a feat he has been unable to do at any of the grand slams to date. It marks a major improvement for the 22-year-old who for the past two years has been touted as a player well able to disrupt the dominance of the Big Three.

I don’t know what to say. I’ve done well at times. I’ve won Masters, I’ve won the World Tour Finals, but I never could break that barrier in a Grand Slam so I am happy to be in the semi-finals Alexander Zverev

Seeded seven, the young German rallied from a poor opening set to rout the three-time grand slam champion Stan Wawrinka on Rod Laver Arena, 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-2 in two-hours and 19-minutes under a hot sun.

He will face the winner of the last quarter-final between world number one Rafael Nadal and Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem being played on the Night Session at Melbourne Park.

“It feels awesome,” said Zverev on finally making his breakthrough at his 19th attempt at this level in five years.

“I don’t know what to say. I’ve done well at times. I’ve won Masters, I’ve won the World Tour Finals, but I never could break that barrier in a Grand Slam so I am happy to be in the semi-finals,” he added.

“Stan played a great match, great tournament beating Daniil Medvedev in the last match in five sets.

“I honestly don’t know what to say. Thank you very much to everybody who is supporting. You guys cannot imagine what this means to me and I hope this is the first of many.”

Zverev has been donating Australian Bush Fire Relief fund, A$10,000 for each round he wins at Melbourne and has promised, should he lift the title itself, to donate the A$4.12 million champion’s cheque as well.

“Yes, it is still true. I hope I can make it happen,” Zverev confirmed during his on court interview with John McEnroe.

“I made the people of Australia a promise. I will keep that promise if it happens.

“Four million Australian dollars would be nice. But there’s people that need it… for rebuilding the lives they once knew.
“It is much more important that they get that money.”

Big things were expected of Zverev since he burst on the scene and entered the top 10 onlybut failed to deliver especially in the majors where his best showing prior to Melbourne were two quarter finals at Roland Garros.

He slipped from 4 to 7 in the rankings last year and started this year with three losses at the ATP Cup but by all accounts, he has dedicated himself to some hard work on the practice court and is now reaping the rewards of those efforts.

Coached by his father, a former player in his own right and also named Alexander hence his nickname of ‘Sacha’.

“He’s like a normal coach that doesn’t like his player too much, to be honest,” Zverev said when asked about his on-court relationships with his father, a response which raised a laugh from the attending crowd.

He then added: “We spend a lot of hours on the court. We spend a lot of hours on site and then I do not see him until the next day. This is how it usually works.

“But I don’t know. It’s been great. There’s a lot of opinions that I should get a new coach. There’s a lot of opinions that, you know, I should change it up.

“But every time that I’m working alone with my dad, we prove that we can win big tournaments, and he’s made me the tennis player that I am.

“So in my opinion, there is absolutely no reason to change. If he tells me that he’s tired, I will understand it as well and we will get some help. But he will be part of my team, I think, for a very long time.”

It has been noted that his serve has become a major weapon once again as he fired 13 aces and made just one double fault during his mauling of the 34-year-old, 2014 champion, Wawrinka.

Despite getting off to a good start, the Swiss was unable to contain his younger adversary when he got his range and focus back. With Zverev’s excellent court coverage and groundstrokes it was inevitable that Wawrinka would wilt as his opponent raised his level of play and strode confidently into the last four.

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