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Australian Open

Zverev ousts Alcaraz to move into Australian Open semis against Medvedev; Zheng into 1st semifinal

Alexander Zverev made no mistake with his second chance to close out a win over No. 2-ranked Carlos Alcaraz on Wednesday night and moved into an Australian Open semifinal against two-time finalist Daniil Medvedev.

The sixth-seeded Zverev was a up a break in the third set at 5-3 and missed a chance to serve it out but the Olympic champion didn’t blink when he got another chance in the fourth, finishing off a 6-1, 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-4 victory.

Alcaraz won Wimbledon last year and was the only player to beat 10-time Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic in a Grand Slam match in 2023. The 20-year-old Spaniard won’t get the chance in Australia this time.

It was Zverev’s first win over a top-5 player at a Grand Slam, and the reward was a spot in the semis for the seventh time at a major.

“Look, I’m playing one of the best players in the world, especially over the last two years,” Zverev said. “He’s been No. 1, No. 2 constantly. He’s won two Grand Slams. And when you’re up 6-1, 6-3, 5-2, you start thinking. I mean, we’re all human.

“Then when you start winning, obviously your brain starts going. It’s not always helpful but I’m happy I got it at the end. I fought back quite well in the end, didn’t let go.”

Medvedev, a two-time finalist in Australia, outlasted ninth-seeded Hubert Hurkacz 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 to make it to the semifinals at Melbourne Park for the third time in four years. Djokovic will play Jannik Sinner in the other semifinal.

Zverev said he’d been taking some beatings from Medvedev recently but “maybe this will be it. Maybe this will be the place.”

No. 12-seeded Zheng Qinwen and Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska won women’s quarterfinals on Day 11 and will play their first Grand Slam semi when they meet after a night sleep.

The sixth-seeded Zverev was on top of Alcaraz early, getting 16 of his 18 first serves into play in the first set and winning the point on all but two.

He raced through the first set in 29 minutes and two service breaks in the second gave him a 2-0 lead.

Just after midnight, Zverev was serving for a straight sets win when Alcaraz broke for the first time. Alcaraz got back to 5-5 when he chased a shot into the doubles alley and knocked a backhand down the line, beaming a big smile and shaking his racket in a gesture that suggested: “Hello, still here.”

He won the last seven points of the tiebreaker to make it 2-1, flashing a big smile after earning four set points when he chased a ball wide and hit a forehand passing shot.

After an exchange of service breaks to open the fourth and some energy-sapping rallies that had both players sprinting side-to-side to make incredible shots, Zverev got another chance to close out after breaking in the ninth game.

He clinched the victory about 1:20 a.m. local time, letting out a scream of relief and shaking both arms in celebration.

Medvedev’s celebration was more like a sigh of relief. He led 4-2 in the fourth set but No. 9 Hurkacz rallied to force a fifth and took it to a grueling four hours.

“I’m so destroyed right now,” Medvedev, the 2021 U.S. Open winner, said in his on-court interview as he stood with his hands clasped behind his head.

The No. 3-ranked Medvedev has had a tough run in Melbourne, including a nearly 4 1/2-hour, five-set second-round win that finished at 3:39 a.m.

The women’s semifinal lineup was completed when Zheng won 10 of the last 11 games to fend off Anna Kalinskaya 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-1 and Yastremska beat beat Linda Noskova 6-3, 6-4. Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka and U.S. Open winner Coco Gauff will meet in the other semifinal.

The 19-year-old Gauff beat Sabalenka in the U.S. Open final and is on a 12-match streak in majors. Sabalenka is on a 12-match winning run at Melbourne Park.

Zheng, a U.S. Open quarterfinalist last year, regained control midway through the second set after Kalinskaya won six of the last seven points to take the first set in a tiebreaker.

“Really excited. First time for me,” in the semifinals, Zheng said. “Of course I’m proud of myself. But this is just the beginning — I still need to play tomorrow.”

No. 93-ranked Yastremska won three matches in the qualifying tournament and became only the second qualifier to reach the women’s singles semis in Australia in the Open era.

“It’s nice to make history because at that time I was not born,” she said. “I’m super happy (but) very tired.”

Noskova beat top-ranked Iga Swiatek on her way to her first Slam quarterfinal but after getting an early break, was no match for Yastremska.

After the match, Yastremska wrote a message on a TV camera lens and later explained it was “about the Ukrainian fighters, that I’m very proud of them. They really deserve a huge respect.”

She said she’s inspired by representing her country, which has been at war for nearly two years since the Russian invasion.

“It’s my mission here,” she said. “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.”

Credit: AP

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