The Roar
The Roar


Zverev puts Alcaraz to the sword with familiar foe who's been 'kicking my ass' waiting in semis

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24th January, 2024

Spanish young gun Carlos Alcaraz has been sent packing from the Australian Open with a quarter-final loss to German fourth seed Alexander Zverev.

In another late-night encounter on Rod Laver Arena, Olympic champion Zverev put Alcaraz to the sword in the first set two sets and survived a fightback to battle into the semi-finals with a 6-1 6-3 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 win early on Thursday morning.

It marked the first victory of Zverev’s career over a top-five ranked opponent at grand slam level and equalled his best result at Melbourne Park.

The 2020 US Open runner-up will meet Russian world No.3 Daniil Medvedev on Friday for a place in Sunday’s final at Melbourne Park.

Watch every Australian Open match ad-free, live & on demand with centre court in 4K Ultra-HD on the home of Grand Slam tennis, Stan Sport.

Medvedev has a 11-7 winning record over Zverev and beat him five out of the six times last year, including at the season-ending ATP Finals last November.

“He’s been kicking my ass a lot over the last year or so,” said Zverev.


“But maybe this will be it, this will be place.”

The 26-year-old admitted to feeling some butterflies when coming within a game of knocking off world No.2 Alcaraz at 5-2 in the third set.

“We’re all human,” Zverev said.

“It’s a great honour to play against guys like him and then when you’re so close to winning, obviously your brain starts going and it’s not always helpful.

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

The two-time grand slam champion swept past Zverev in straight sets at the same stage in last year’s US Open, with the German looking ragged after spending almost five hours and 39 minutes longer on court than Alcaraz.


The on-court time discrepancy (five hours and five minutes) was similar leading in to Wednesday’s quarter-final after Zverev survived two five-set epics through the first four rounds.

“I have a lot of blood under my toenails so that’s quite painful,” Zverev said when asked how his body was holding up.

“But, you know what, I would much rather feel the way I’m feeling right now with maybe a bit of pain here and there and be in the semi-finals than be at home right now watching this tournament.”

Battered body aside, it was Zverev who raced out of the blocks to break the 20-year-old Spaniard twice in the first six games.

Alcaraz had to wait until 2-3 in the second set to bring up break point chances but could not convert either and was promptly broken twice to fall in to a two-set hole.

He finally broke Zverev as the German served for the match at 5-3, smiling at the change of ends and eventually extending the match to a fourth following an inspired tiebreak.


Although the comeback fell short, Alcaraz was content with his run to his quarter-finals in Melbourne after previously never making it beyond the third round.

“I’m sad with my level today because I have been playing good tennis … but in general I leave the tournament happy,” he told reporters.

“Quarter-final of a grand slam is good. It’s not what I’m looking for but it’s not bad.”

Medvedev, after securing his quarter-final win over Polish ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-3 5-7 6-4 in three hours and 59 minutes with a tricky drop shot, celebrated by blowing three kisses to his box, mainly directed at coach Gilles Cervara.

Medvedev’s second-round battle against Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori earlier in this year’s tournament went to 3.39am after also going five sets.

After walking off the court, Medvedev wrote on a camera: “Just want to sleep now”.

“After every match, I’m in the locker room. I’m destroyed,” he said.


“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. 

“Then try to win, and then if you’re dead after, doesn’t matter because you have a day off.”

The world No.3 is expecting his semi-final to be played as the night match on Friday, even though 10-time Open champion and world No.1 Novak Djokovic prefers the 7pm timeslot.

Djokovic and young Italian star Jannik Sinner won their quarter-finals on Tuesday, meaning they have an extra day off to recover than Medvedev.

“I think it’s kind of done in the schedule before the tournament, if I’m not wrong, so fine for me,” Medvedev responded to a question about playing on Friday night.

“The way the schedule is, because it’s only two matches, it’s not going to be possible it starts at 11pm, unless they play seven hours, which I doubt.”


Medvedev has been back to his best since making the semi-finals at Wimbledon last year.

He then made the final at the US Open, losing to Djokovic in straight sets.

It followed a concerning form slump after losing the 2022 Australian Open final against Rafael Nadal in heartbreaking circumstances.

Leading two sets to love at Melbourne Park in the decider two years ago, Medvedev looked on his way to a second major title and first in Australia.

But Nadal had other ideas, pulling off a remarkable comeback in one of the great grand slam finals.

Medvedev failed to make it past the fourth round in his next four appearances at majors, dropping out of the world’s top 10 after a third-round exit at Melbourne Park last year.


“You know, if there is almost no one left in the tournament, that means you’ve done a great job,” he said.

“There’s no one to disturb you. It’s just you, so go try to win it.

“I like this feeling.