Alexander Zverev can finally make his first grand slam final on Friday after a previously disappointing record at the biggest events on the calendar. The German will play a rising Dominic Thiem, who continues to show how a major improvement on hard courts.
Zverev has finally made a slam semi final after only making two quarter finals previously, both of which have been lost at the French Open in the past two years. In an impressive performance, he came from a set down to defeat Stanislas Wawrinka – a feat he is clearly delighted about. “It feels awesome. I’ve done well in other tournaments, but I could never break that barrier in Grand Slams. I’m happy to be in the semi-finals. You can’t imagine what this means to me and I hope it will be the first of many.” he said. A strong serving performance provided a good base for the German, who boasted an 84% first serve percentage and hit 12 aces over the final three sets of his 1-6 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory.
While Thiem had often troubled Rafael Nadal in best of three matches, he came into their quarter final with a 0-5 record in slam matches. He finally got on the board with a stunning victory over the Spaniard, 7-6 7-6 4-6 7-6. He would have to come back from a break down in the first two sets and impressively held his nerve to win each of the three tiebreaks he played. ”All the match was on a very good level. We were both in good form,” Thiem said afterwards. “We already had this epic match in New York two years ago and today I had a feeling I was lucky in the right situations. The net cord was on my side. He is one of the greatest of all time, so you do sometimes need luck to beat him.”
Thiem has dominated the head to head in the past, holding a 6-2 record against the German. It does include two wins on hard courts but both of them came indoors while Zverev won the lone outdoor match in Beijing. Thiem is now undoubtedly an elite hard court player and a place in the Australian Open final will be an excellent reward for the work put in by him and his team. For Zverev, this tournament could provide the confidence for him to be a permanent fixture in the deep end of slams for years to come now. “I did beat Stan just now, who is also a multiple-Grand Slam champion, which gives me a little bit of confidence that I can do it,” Zverev said. “I hope I can still continue to play better in the semi-finals and hopefully maybe in the final. The people that I’m going to play are not getting worse.”
Prediction – Dominic Thiem in five sets