Melbourne, Australia – In a dramatic upset Wednesday night at Rod Laver Arena, Germany’s Alexander Zverev defeated world number two Carlos Alcaraz of Spain in four sets to reach his seventh career Grand Slam semifinal at the 2024 Australian Open.
The sixth-seeded Zverev prevailed by scores of 6-1, 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-4 over the favored Alcaraz, ending the 20-year-old Spaniard’s quest for his first Australian Open title.
“I’m extremely happy to be back where I am and winning these kind of matches, giving myself the chance again,” said Zverev, who missed Wimbledon and the US Open last year due to an ankle injury.
The 25-year-old German will next face Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, who outlasted Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in a grueling five-setter earlier on Wednesday. Zverev acknowledged he has endured some lopsided losses to the former world number one recently.
“Maybe this will be it. Maybe this will be the place,” Zverev said of possibly reversing his fortunes against Medvedev at this Australian Open.
Blazing Start Sets Tone for Zverev
Zverev sprinted out to a dominant beginning, sweeping through the opening set 6-1 in just 29 minutes by winning 25 of 33 points. He dropped only two points on his own serve the entire set.
The German maintained firm control of the baseline rallies with his penetrating groundstrokes, pinning Alcaraz well behind the court. Zverev also served strongly, heavily utilizing his slider out wide in the ad court to elicit weak replies from Alcaraz.
“I was on top of my game before the injury happened,” commented Zverev on his highest level of play that was on display in the first two sets.
Breaking Alcaraz early in the second set, Zverev continued applying pressure with his forceful ground game. The Spaniard lacked answers to counter Zverev’s raw power and made uncharacteristic errors trying to end points too quickly.
After Zverev grabbed another break to go up 5-2 in the second set, he served for a two-set lead at 5-3. Here is where Alcaraz finally showed signs of life, earning his first break of the match.
But Zverev quickly composed himself the next game to prevent Alcaraz from getting back on serve, closing out the second set 6-3.
Alcaraz Mounts Comeback, Forces Fourth Set
Just seven minutes past midnight with Thursday approaching, Zverev stepped up to serve for the match at 5-3 in the third set. But this time, Alcaraz would not go quietly into the Australian night.
Finding more penetrating depth on his groundstrokes, the Spaniard broke Zverev for the second time in the match to get back on serve at 5-4. Alcaraz pressured Zverev into a few key unforced errors before holding serve to square the set at 5-5.
With raucous support from the Melbourne crowd, Alcaraz proceeded to claim seven straight points in the deciding tiebreak. Seemingly reenergized, his signature screaming forehand finally showed up. Alcaraz took the tiebreak 7-2, trimming Zverev’s lead to 2-1 in sets.
The momentum had clearly shifted to the Spaniard’s side as Zverev’s mind appeared cluttered with doubt. Alcaraz even notched an early break to begin the pivotal fourth set to lead 2-1.
Zverev Regains Control to Finish Off Upset Victory
But Zverev refused to let this opportunity against his high-profile opponent slip away. He broke right back the very next game to get back on serve, punctuating it with a loud roar and fist pump.
After the players traded holds the next few games, Zverev struck again by capturing another critical break in the seventh game for a 4-3 advantage as Alcaraz misfired on a backhand.
Serving for a spot in the final four at 5-4, Zverev overcame a couple nervous points to close out the huge victory over the favored Alcaraz.
“When you’re up 6-1, 6-3, 5-2 against a player like Carlos, you start thinking because we are all human,” admitted Zverev afterward about nearly allowing Alcaraz back into the match. “Your brain starts going and it’s not always helpful.”
This marked Zverev’s first triumph over a top five opponent at a Grand Slam event. It also dashed Alcaraz’s hopes of claiming his first Australian Open crown.
For Zverev, his Grand Slam title ambitions remain in clear sight. It will require getting past Medvedev next, against whom he has struggled mightily in their recent meetings.
But the German’s clutch performance under pressure to upset Alcaraz reinforced that his best is still capable of competing with anyone. The talent has always resided within Zverev.
Now with his serious injury behind him, Zverev seems determined as ever to finally claim that elusive major title.