Alexander Zverev can finally make his slam final breakthrough on Friday night with a very winnable match against Pablo Carreno Busta in the semi-finals. It is Zverev’s second slam semi-final of the year while the Spaniard is unexpectedly in the last four once more, having made it to the same stage in 2017.
It looked like another potential letdown for Zverev in a big slam match on Tuesday but he bounced back well from a set and break down to oust Borna Coric in four, 1-6 7-6 7-6 6-3. The matchup had not served Zverev well in the past and it seemed like more of the same as he fell 1-6 2-4 down before the comeback. He delivered on many of the big points in the match including the two tiebreaks as well as a vital hold from 2-2 0-40 in the fourth set to quell a possible Coric comeback. “I just started playing maybe a little bit more aggressive because if I would have played the way I played, that’s not the level for a quarter-final match of a Grand Slam,” Zverev said. “I had to start playing better and I was a little bit more consistent then as well. My serve got better and I thought to myself, ‘I’m down 6-1, 4-2, I have nothing to lose.'”
After his dramatic fourth round match with Novak Djokovic, Carreno Busta avoided a let down against Denis Shapovalov. Experience told in the end as he edged the young Canadian in five sets 3-6 7-6 7-6 0-6 6-3. He also had to deal with a back injury in the latter part of the match, taking a medical timeout following the one sided fourth set. His steadiness allowed Shapovalov to throw away the match, in some part due to his 76 unforced errors.
Back injury or not, Carreno Busta is going to be a big underdog against an opponent who finally looks ready to compete at the deep end of slams on a regular basis. Zverev’s one weakness this fortnight has been his second serve, with far too many double faults for his liking. He has otherwise been in confident form and the match should be mostly on Zverev’s racquet. Carreno Busta will remain solid and try to draw as many errors as possible but any victory will likely depend on the German blowing the match. There seems to be a change of mindset for Zverev too. “I needed to learn how to deal with that pressure [and] those expectations of myself. It took me a little bit of time, but now I’m in the semi-finals of the US Open and I definitely don’t want to stop here.” he said.
Prediction – Alexander Zverev in straight sets