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Zverev shocks Alcaraz to join Medvedev in semis

Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 25, 2024 Germany's Alexander Zverev celebrates after winning his quarter final match against Spain's Carlos Alcaraz REUTERS/Issei Kato
Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 25, 2024 Germany's Alexander Zverev celebrates after winning his quarter final match against Spain's Carlos Alcaraz REUTERS/Issei Kato
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MELBOURNE: Alexander Zverev snuffed out a thrilling Carlos Alcaraz comeback early on Thursday to set up an Australian Open semifinal against Daniil Medvedev as Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska's dream run continued in Melbourne.


The big-serving German recovered from a major wobble to win 6-1, 6-3, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4 in just over three hours, crushing Alcaraz's hopes of a third Grand Slam.


Zverev broke at his first opportunity on Rod Laver Arena, dominating the charismatic Spaniard, who could find no answer to his opponent's power and precision.


The sixth seed served for victory at 5-3 in the third set but the Spaniard somehow broke his opponent and produced some outrageous shots in the tie-break as the crowd erupted.


The pair swapped breaks at the beginning of the fourth set but Zverev earned a crucial breakthrough in the ninth game and served it out to reach the semis at Melbourne Park for the second time.


Former US Open runner-up Zverev, who reached the semifinals in Melbourne in 2020, landed 85 per cent of his first serves and won 73 per cent of points behind his first delivery.


"I was playing one of the best players in the world. Over the past two years he has been number one or number two constantly," said the 26-year-old.


"He's won two Grand Slams, and when you are up 6-1, 6-3, 5-2, you start thinking.


"We are all human. It is a great honour to play against guys like him. When you're so close to winning your brain starts going and it is not always helpful, but I'm happy that I got there in the end."


MEDVEDEV DIGS DEEP


Earlier, former US Open champion Medvedev came through a gruelling five-setter against Hubert Hurkacz in sweaty conditions 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.


The Russian world number three was twice pegged back by the Polish ninth seed after going a set up but produced the crucial break in the decider to get over the line.


The 27-year-old, who lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2021 final and Rafael Nadal the following year, said he felt "destroyed" after the contest, which lasted nearly four hours.


"I honestly was feeling it physically at the end of the second set already and I said to stay tough," he said.


"Fourth set I had no more concentration and I had to try my best to do whatever I can."


In the opening match on centre court, 93rd-ranked Yastremska cruised past unseeded Czech Linda Noskova to become just the second women's qualifier in the Open Era to get so far at the Australian Open.


She broke three times to win 6-3, 6-4 and set up a clash against Chinese 12th seed Zheng Qinwen, who is also gunning for a maiden Grand Slam title.


Zheng beat Russia's Anna Kalinskaya 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-1.


Yastremska is the first women's qualifier to reach the last four since Australia's Christine Matison in 1978.


The 23-year-old wrote a message of support for Ukrainian fighters involved in the war against Russia on a TV camera lens after her win.


"I'm very proud of them," she said. "They really deserve huge respect. I always try to write something for Ukraine, about Ukraine.


"I think it's my mission here. If I do well, I can get -- tough to express -- I'm just trying to give the signal to Ukraine that I'm really proud of it."


Zheng came from a set down to see off the unseeded Kalinskaya.


The 21-year-old, known to her fans as "Queen Wen", had never progressed beyond the quarterfinals in eight previous Grand Slam appearances but held her nerve for the win.


"In the first set we had a big competition and the match was really tough for me," she said.


"I just told myself to stay focused, not think anymore about the first set and I'm so happy right now, like really excited." — AFP


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