Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz suffered a surprise defeat to sixth-seed Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Wednesday.
The world No.2 was seen by many as Novak Djokovic’s closest challenger for the title at Melbourne Park but Zverev stunned the Spaniard 6-1 6-3 6-7 6-4.
Alcaraz had been hoping to get revenge over Djokovic having lost both of their two meetings since the Wimbledon final in Cincinnati and at the ATP Finals.
But the two-time major winner was broken seven times in his four-set loss to Zverev and clocked up over 40 unforced errors, while he was also hit with a time violation during the clash on Rod Laver Arena, which didn’t finish until 1.19am.
Alcaraz, 20, massively struggled over the first three sets – with Zverev two points away from victory on his own serve – before the second-seed came roaring back and came out on top in a tie-break to keep the match alive and force a fourth set.
Zverev, 26, needed a medical time-out ahead of the fourth set following a heavy fall but edged past his opponent to reach the Australian Open semi-finals for just the second time in his career as he continues his quest for a maiden major title.
Many saw Alcaraz’s victory over Djokovic in last year’s Wimbledon final as a changing of the guard in tennis but the Serbian put that myth to bed by clinching the US Open title in September, lifting his 24th Grand Slam singles trophy.
With Alcaraz now out, Djokovic’s chances of making it 25 major titles has arguably increased ahead of his semi-final clash against Jannik Sinner on Friday.
Daniil Medvedev, who will now face German star Zverev in the other semi-final, is hoping Djokovic and Sinner are forced to play for seven-and-a-half hours to boost his chances should the Russian reach his third Melbourne final in four years.
‘I want them to go seven hours 30 [minutes], tiebreak 30-28 in the fifth, and then maybe let’s see if they are a little bit tired on Sunday [for the final],’ he said.
Meanwhile, Zverev’s run to the last four in Melbourne comes a week after it was announced that he faces a trial later this year over domestic abuse allegations.
The world No.6 denies the allegations and has been reluctant to discuss the issue in his post-match press conferences at the tournament.
Asked about those who have stated that he should not be playing tennis at all amid the allegations, Zverev said: ‘Journalists are saying that. Some who are actually interested more in this story to write about and more about the clicks than the actual truth.’