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Carlos Alcaraz knocked out of the Australian Open by Alex Zverev

Carlos Alcaraz’s quest for a third grand slam title came to an end on Wednesday after the Spaniard was beaten by Alex Zverev in a four-set thriller at the Australian Open.

Zverev eventually got the better of his opponent after three hours and five minutes of stunning tennis, winning 6-1 6-3 6-7(2-7) 6-4 to reach his second Australian Open semifinal.

Zverev burst out of the blocks and quickly opened up a two sets to love lead. The German had a chance to close out the match when serving at 5-3 in the third, but Alcaraz upped his level to break back and eventually win the set on a tie break.

Despite halving the deficit, it was still going to be a monumental task for Alcaraz to come back and beat a player that has lost just once in his career when leading 2-0 in sets: a 2020 US Open final defeat to Dominic Thiem.

Sure enough, Zverev impressively put the disappointment of the third set behind him and broke Alcaraz with the world No. 2 serving at 4-4 in the third set. He wouldn’t waste a second opportunity to serve for the match.

“I’m playing one of the best players in the world, especially over the last two years, he’s been No. 1 and No. 2 constantly,” Zverev said in his post-match interview. “He’s won two grand slams and when you’re up 6-1 6-3 5-2, you start thinking [about winning], I mean we’re all human.

“It’s a great honor 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, but I’m happy I got through in the end. I think I fought back quite well in the fourth set, didn’t let go and I’m very happy that I finished the match.”

With Alcaraz out of the picture, Djokovic now no longer has to face the one player that most predicted would pose the biggest threat to his Australian Open reign.

However, Zverev’s eye-catching performance – in particular, the absurd level he played at in the opening two sets – will no doubt have given Djokovic cause for concern.

Of course, maintaining that form for at least three sets when arguably the greatest player of all time is standing at the opposite end of the court is an entirely different prospect.

But Zverev still has to navigate a semifinal against Daniil Medvedev, a player he has struggled against in recent years, before he can think about facing Djokovic.

Alcaraz had no answer to Zverev's brilliance. - Edgar Su/Reuters
Alcaraz had no answer to Zverev's brilliance. - Edgar Su/Reuters

Medvedev holds a 11-7 career head-to-head record over Zverev but has won nine of the last 11 meetings between the pair, his latest victory coming in November’s ATP Finals.

The Russian world No. 3 had to come through an epic of his own to reach the semifinals, beating Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in a four-hour, five-set thriller.

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