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Zverev topples Wawrinka to make first major semi-final

andrew hendrie /

Alexander Zverev may have dropped his first set of the tournament, but he was still able to post a dominant win over Stan Wawrinka to make his first Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

After losing the first set in just 24 minutes, it was looking like another long day at the office for Zverev, who was 0-2 in Grand Slam quarter-finals prior to this encounter. However, the seventh seed produced a stellar turnaround, completely owning Wawrinka in every aspect of the match for the next three sets to register a 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory to reach his first major semi-final in Melbourne.

“After that first set, I was getting ready to talk to the press about why I lost in straight sets,” Zverev joked in his on-court interview with John McEnroe. “I turned it around and my energy picked up a bit. I wasn’t used to his ball… I needed a set to get used it. Thank God it worked out.

“It feels awesome. I’ve done well in other tournaments, but I could never break that barrier in Grand Slams. I’m happy to be in the semi-finals. You can’t imagine what this means to me and I hope it will be the first of many.”

Alexander Zverev (AAP Image/Scott Barbour)

It goes without saying that it’s been an excellent tournament for Zverev, but even more so when you consider his woeful ATP Cup campaign at the start of the month, where he lost all three of his singles matches in Brisbane and continued to struggle considerably on serve.

However, Zverev has returned to some of his best tennis in Melbourne, advancing to the quarter-finals without dropping a set with wins over former slam semi-finalists Marco Cecchinato and Fernando Verdasco, while he also snapped the 15-match winning streak of Andrey Rublev in the fourth round.

Zverev also had a superb serving day against Wawrinka, firing in 80 per cent of first serves and winning 56 out of 74 points.

A former World No. 3 and the 2018 ATP Finals champion (when he beat Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer on his way to the title), Zverev will face the winner of World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and fifth seed Dominic Thiem for a spot in the final on Friday night.

Zverev beat Nadal in their last meeting at the ATP Finals in 2019, but trails their head-to-head 1-5, while he also has a losing record against Thiem (2-6).

Unsurprisingly, the 22-year-old is hoping for a marathon five-setter when Nadal and Thiem square off later on Wednesday night.

”I’ll have a cold glass of coke in my hotel room, with air conditioning, hopefully watching them play for six hours,” Zverev said. “That’s my assessment of that match.”