Breaking Top-5 Barrier: Alexander Zverev's Historic Australian Open Win

Alexander Zverev scored his first top-5 win at Majors after ten straight losses

by Jovica Ilic
Breaking Top-5 Barrier: Alexander Zverev's Historic Australian Open Win
© Cameron Spencer / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Eight years after stepping onto the grand stage of Majors against top-5 opponents, Alexander Zverev has triumphed in a significant breakthrough, securing his maiden victory over this elite echelon. The German endured a challenging journey, encountering ten consecutive defeats against the top-5 players at Majors, including a heartbreaking loss in the 2020 US Open final to Dominic Thiem after a thriller.

Alexander took down world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz 6-1, 6-3, 6-7, 6-4 in three hours and five minutes. This landmark victory marked a turning point in Zverev's Major career, with Rod Laver Arena witnessing the culmination of his efforts against the highest-caliber opponents.

Despite facing adversity in the third set on the doorstep of victory, Zverev showcased resilience and ultimately sealed the deal in the fourth, claiming his most notable win on tennis's grandest stage. Now, having secured his place in the semi-final, Zverev looks ahead to another top-5 challenge against two-time beaten finalist Daniil Medvedev, as he aims to build on this historic achievement and continue his ascent at the Australian Open.

Let's delve into Alexander's remarkable journey through 11 Major encounters against the top-5 rivals and savor the sweet taste of his first victory among tennis's elite. Zverev debuted at the Australian Open in 2016, facing world no.

2 Andy Murray in the first round.

Carlos Alcaraz & Alexander Zverev, Australian Open 2024© Cameron Spencer / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Andy won 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 in two hours and eight minutes, defending all six break points and stealing the young gun's serve six times for a rock-solid victory.

The German had to wait over three years to experience another clash against the top-5 rival at Majors, reaching the quarter-final at Roland Garros 2019 and meeting world no. 1 Novak Djokovic. The Serb secured a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 victory in two hours and nine minutes, delivering late breaks in the opener and having the upper hand in sets two and three.

Alexander played well in the first set and served for it at 5-4. Novak stayed calm, pulled the break and took charge, rattling off 15 of the final 20 games to race into the semi-final. Half a year later, Zverev battled against Dominic Thiem in the Australian Open semi-final.

Alexander Zverev notched his first top-5 win at Majors over Carlos Alcaraz.

Thiem prevailed 3-6, 6-4, 7-6, 7-6 in three hours and 42 minutes, taking the pivotal points and leaving Zverev without the final spot. Alexander claimed the opener before losing the edge in the next three, finishing his run in the semi-final and still seeking his first top-5 win at Majors.

The German could have changed that eight months later in New York, facing Thiem in a Major final and suffering a massive blow. Thiem defeated his good friend 2-6, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 in four hours and one minute, lifting his first and only Major title and leaving Zverev in ruins.

It was the most notable comeback in the Major finals since Roland Garros 2004, with Alexander squandering two sets to love lead and missing a chance to bring the victory home after serving for it at 5-3 in the decider.

Alexander Zverev, Australian Open 2024© Cameron Spencer / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The German crumbled under pressure, netting a routine volley and keeping the Austrian alive.

Alexander lost serve again in the 11th game before pulling it back at 5-6 for more drama. It was the first deciding tie break in the US Open finals, and Zverev saved two match points at 4-6 to prolong the action. However, he sprayed a backhand mistake on the third match point, pushing Thiem over the top.

A few months later, Alexander played another Major match against Novak Djokovic, this time in the Australian Open quarter-final. Novak prevailed 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 in three and a half hours after a massive battle. Alexander gave his best, building the advantage in three sets but clinching only one.

Zverev forged a 3-0 lead in the fourth set and had three more break points in the fourth game. Djokovic erased them, pulled the break back in game five and held in the next one for 3-3. Alexander squandered two more break points in the eighth game and a set point at 6-5 before Novak sealed the deal in the tie break.

Zverev was a Major contender at Roland Garros a couple of months later, reaching the semi-final and falling to Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets. They had many ups and downs, with Tsitsipas emerging at the top with five breaks on his tally, getting broken three times.

Alexander booked another Major duel with Novak Djokovic at the US Open, and the Serb prevailed 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 in the semi-final in three and a half hours. Zverev defeated Djokovic at the Tokyo Olympics a few weeks earlier and stood a chance in this one.

Alexander Zverev, Australian Open 2024© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Novak lost serve three times and grabbed five breaks, overpowering his rival in the decider and keeping him without the top-5 victory at Majors.

Zverev pushed Rafael Nadal to the limits in the 2022 Roland Garros semi-final, starting the second set's tie break with the three-hour mark on the clock! Nadal led 7-6, 6-6 when Zverev experienced a severe ankle injury, leaving the court in tears and ruining his season.

Alexander needed time to return to his A-game in 2023, playing well against and arranging two more matches against the top-5 rivals at Majors. Casper Ruud ousted Zverev in the Roland Garros semi-final, and Carlos Alcaraz bested him in the US Open quarter-final, with the German failing to win a set in both encounters.

Alexander and Carlos met again in this year's Australian Open quarter-final, and the German finally defeated the top-5 player at Majors. Zverev was the only player on the court for over half a match, forging a 6-3, 6-1, 5-2 advantage and looking good to seal the deal in style.

However, he got broken while serving for the win at 5-3, keeping his rival in contention. Alcaraz took charge and clinched the breaker 7-2 to extend the battle and his chances. They traded breaks at the beginning of the fourth set and served well for 4-4.

The German broke at 15 in game nine for a 5-4 lead and sealed the deal with a hold at 30 in the next one for a place in the semi-final after his first Major top-5 win.

Alexander Zverev Australian Open