Novak Djokovic passed another obstacle to reach his ninth Australian Open semi-final, overpowering Alexander Zverev 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 in three and a half hours. The German gave his best to stay in touch and prolong the clash, opening an early lead in three sets and wasting a set point in the closing stages of the fourth to propel Djokovic through and hit the exit door.
They had a similar number of winners, and the defending champion forged the crucial difference in the forced errors department. The Serb earned the triumph in the shortest range up to four strokes, as nothing separated them in the more extended ones.
Alexander won five points more than Novak in the opener, firing 15 winners and 11 unforced errors and staying focused in the tie break's closing stages for 7-6. In the opening game, Djokovic hit a double fault to suffer a break, and Zverev held at love for a 2-0 advantage.
Novak fended off a break chance in game five and held after service winner to remain within one break deficit. Alexander served well in games six and eight to control the scoreboard and wasted a set point on the return in game nine.
The German served for the set and got broken a few minutes later following a backhand mistake. The set went into a tie break, and Alexander claimed an extended point at 6-6 and sealed the opener with a service winner after an hour.
Novak took charge in set number two, firing ten winners and two unforced errors and dropping only a couple of points behind the initial shot. Zverev could not follow that pace, spraying a backhand mistake in the opening game and finding himself 3-0 down when Djokovic painted a backhand down the line winner.
The Serb served well in the rest of the set and wrapped it up with an ace at 5-2 after 28 minutes. With momentum on his side, Djokovic won five points more in set number three and grabbed two breaks to move a set away from the finish line.
Zverev was off to a better start, though, taking 13 of the opening 16 points for a 3-0 advantage. Djokovic lost serve in the second game following a double fault and wasted a break chance in game five when Zverev landed a forehand winner that kept him in front.
Novak Djokovic defeated Alexander Zverev in three and a half hours in Melbourne.
Novak smashed his racquet at the end of that game and started to play better afterward, taking 20 of the last 26 points and rattling off five straight games to turn the tables around.
In the seventh game, Alexander hit a double fault to lose serve and fell 5-4 behind after netting a backhand in game nine. Novak held at 15 in game ten to secure the set, unleashing a massive roar towards his box and moving closer to the finish line.
Like the previous one, the German opened a 3-0 advantage in set number four before the Serb pulled the break back to stay in contention. Novak defended two break points at 3-4 before Zverev held at love for a 5-4 advantage.
Djokovic survived the tenth game with an ace and sent the pressure to the other side of the net. Alexander hit a service winner to close the 11th game at love and created a set point in the next one with a backhand down the line winner.
Novak stayed calm, erased it with an ace and held when Zverev netted a forehand to bring a tie break. They hit winners in the opening five points before Alexander moved 5-4 up with an ace down the T line. Novak won the following two points on serve for a match point, and Alexander denied it to lock the result at 6-6 and introduce more drama.
The more experienced Djokovic scored a mini-break in the 13th point and sealed the deal with an ace for his ninth Australian Open semi-final.