Australian Open: Alexander Zverev sweeps past Stan Wawrinka to make first Grand Slam semis

Alexander Zverev fired 13 aces against just one double fault, with a first-serve percentage of 80 percent. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 29 January 2020

Australian Open: Alexander Zverev sweeps past Stan Wawrinka to make first Grand Slam semis

  • The seventh seed was thumped in the first set but recovered to grind down the 2014 champion
  • Zverev fired 13 aces against just one double fault, with a first-serve percentage of 80 percent

MELBOURNE: German young gun Alexander Zverev stormed into his first Grand Slam semifinal on Wednesday, rallying from a set down to shatter the dreams of veteran Stan Wawrinka at the Australian Open.
The seventh seed was thumped in the first set but recovered to grind down the 2014 champion 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in hot sun on Rod Laver Arena.
He will face either world number one Rafael Nadal or Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the last four, with a final beckoning against Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer.
“It feels awesome,” said Zverev who has been donating $10,000 for each win at Melbourne Park to Australian bushfire relief, and will even hand over the A$4.12 million ($2.78 million) winner’s cheque if he clinches the title.
“I’ve done well at other tournaments and in other matches but could never break that barrier in Grand Slams. You can’t imagine what this means to me.
“I hope it will be the first of many.”
Big things have been tipped for Zverev since he burst into the top 10 in 2017, but until now the 22-year-old has not fully delivered, slipping down the rankings last year to seven from four at the start of the season.
But after a poor build-up to the year’s opening Major at the ATP Cup, where he lost all three matches, he worked hard on the practice court and has been in fine touch to finally make a Grand Slam last four at his 19th attempt.
His serve, a key focus of his extended practices, was a weapon once again against 34-year-old three-time Grand Slam champion Wawrinka.
He fired 13 aces against just one double fault, with a first-serve percentage of 80 percent.
It was Wawrinka who came out of the blocks firing, putting immediate pressure on the Zverev serve, getting his returns back to break straight away when the German netted a half-volley.
Zverev won just four points in the opening three games as he struggled to get the measure of Wawrinka, and he was broken again when he shanked a forehand high into the crowd.
The German finally held to get himself on the scoreboard but the Swiss was moving and serving well, unleashing some crunching groundstrokes to take the set in just 24 minutes.
Zverev needed to hold his opening serve in the second set to halt the Wawrinka juggernaut and he rose to the occasion, with his court coverage and groundstrokes raising a level.
It went with serve until game eight when Wawrinka drilled a forehand into the net and Zverev screamed ‘C’mon’ after his first break of the match, serving out for the set.
A resurgent Zverev rammed home his advantage with an early break in the third set before the wily Swiss hit back. But a poorly executed drop shot again handed the 22-year-old another break and he raced to a two sets to one lead.
Wawrinka, who beat Rafael Nadal in the 2014 Melbourne final, was out of fight and Zverev had him dancing to his tune as he raced to victory, ending the popular Swiss star’s bid for a first Slam semi since Roland Garros in 2017.


Virus cases increase in Bundesliga after int’l break

Updated 20 October 2020

Virus cases increase in Bundesliga after int’l break

  • Other cases are causing concern that soccer may be put on hold again as Germany appears to be dealing with a second wave of the virus

BERLIN: Players are returning to the Bundesliga from international duty, and they are bringing the coronavirus with them.

Hoffenheim played Borussia Dortmund on Saturday without Andrej Kramaric and Kasim Adams after they tested positive following national team matches with Croatia and Ghana, respectively. Czech Republic defender Pavel Kaderabek was in quarantine because of a family member’s result.

Hoffenheim director of football Alexander Rosen said after the 1-0 loss that clubs would have to think about letting players leave again for international duty.

“The clubs pay the players and work with everyone to ensure the processes are carried out properly," Rosen said. "And you get the impression that the national associations simply don’t care.”

Dortmund had to do without defender Manuel Akanji after he tested positive while on duty for Switzerland.

“When you look at the rising numbers, you have to wonder whether it makes sense to stop (players from leaving) for the next break,” Leipzig sports director Markus Krösche said after his team’s 2-0 win in Augsburg. “There has to be clear guidance from FIFA on how it goes, especially in risk areas.”

Leipzig was without Amadou Haidara. The midfielder had tested positive after helping Mali defeat Ghana 3-0 in a friendly in Turkey. Also, Hertha Berlin was upset that Mattéo Guendouzi returned from France’s under-21 team with the virus.

“The signing was already very complicated,” Hertha coach Bruno Labbadia. “Now it’s the worst case scenario.”

Other cases are causing concern that soccer may be put on hold again as Germany appears to be dealing with a second wave of the virus. The country’s disease control center reported 7,830 new cases over the previous 24 hours on Saturday, a record for the third day in a row.

Second-division club Nuremberg reported two positive cases on Wednesday. The game between Osnabruck and Darmstadt was postponed with most of the home team in quarantine for 14 days after two of its players tested positive for COVID-19.

Union Berlin striker Max Kruse was criticized for posting an Instagram video showing him enjoying a visit to a shisha bar with friends. Berlin has some of Germany’s highest virus infection rates.

“It wasn’t the cleverest from Max, he knows that himself,” Union teammate Marvin Friedrich said after the team's 1-1 draw at Schalke on Sunday.

Dortmund coach Lucien Favre assumes there will be more cases among players and he warned that the league may be suspended again. There was no soccer for two months when the pandemic started in March.