The six-time Major champion Boris Becker was pleased with what he saw from his compatriot Alexander Zverev on Tuesday. The youngster advanced to his first US Open semi-final, toppling Borna Coric 1-6, 7-6, 7-6, 6-3 in grueling three hours and 25 minutes to become the first German in the last four in New York since Becker in 1995.
Trailing 6-1, 4-2, Zverev kept fighting to find his strokes and momentum, earning nice words from Becker ahead of the semi-final clash with Pablo Carreno Busta. Alexander finished the encounter with 52 winners and 46 unforced errors, recovering his game in set number two and hitting more winners than mistakes in sets three and four to cross the finish line first.
Coric stayed on a 37-41 ratio, falling short in sets two or three and losing ground in the fourth to propel the rival through. Alexander hit 18 aces and 12 double faults, defending 11 out of 15 break chances to keep himself alive, keeping composure when it mattered the most and having faith in his abilities.
The German grabbed three breaks, prevailing in sets two and three to make a crucial difference and remain on the title course. Coric had the upper hand in the opener, dominating both serve and return against the opponent who struggled to move or do anything as he wanted.
The Croat grabbed the first break in game four when the German sent a volley long, repelling two break chances in the next one and stealing Zverev's serve again to forge a 5-1 advantage. Serving for the set, Borna held at 15 with a service winner to wrap up the opener in 24 minutes, looking good in the first half of the second set too.
It lasted four 80 minutes, and Zverev managed to turn the tables. After arguing with the chair umpire, he got broken in the fifth game, falling 4-2 behind before pulling the break back with a forehand winner in game eight, stealing Coric's serve for the first time and gathering momentum.
Alexander Zverev trailed 6-1, 4-2 against Borna Coric in New York.
They both served well in the rest of the set to set a tie break that Alexander grabbed 7-5 following a backhand mistake from Borna to level the overall score.
The third set was also an extended one, with breaks they traded in games three and four. Zverev found two precious unreturned serves at 2-3 to defend two break chances and remain on course, with no opportunities for the returners in the rest of the set before another tie break.
The German clinched it 7-1 when the Croat netted a backhand, turning the scoreboard around and becoming the favorite. After ten commanding holds from 3-3 in the third set, they were locked at 2-2 in the fourth set before Alexander faced an ultimate challenge of four break points.
Borna had a chance on the first three, spraying unforced errors that would cost him dearly! Zverev saved the fourth and closed the game with a forced error from his rival, wasting a break chance in game six stealing Coric's serve at 4-3 with an incredible forehand down the line winner.
Serving for the victory, Alexander converted the third match point with a service winner, advancing into the last four for the first time in New York. "Zverev was 6-1, 4-2 down against Borna Coric, and I was starting getting worried.
After the match, I asked him what was going through his head and he said to me that he had two options: to raise his level or go home soon. Even in those worst moments, he was calm and focused, not throwing racquet or screaming around, he just kept fighting.
He wasn't playing great but the fighting spirit was great. Once he won the second set in the tie break, he always felt good about his chances. His attitude is very mature and grown-up, unlike in the past, when he used to lose focus.
At this year's US Open, he accepts the circumstances and stays concentrated on his games. It wasn't easy sometimes against Borna Coric, as the Croat went to the locker room twice per set for a change," Boris Becker said.