'I was disappointed with my level versus Novak Djokovic,' Alexander Zverev recalls

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'I was disappointed with my level versus Novak Djokovic,' Alexander Zverev recalls

Alexander Zverev was among the title favorites at the season's first Major event in Melbourne. Like many times before at the most notable tennis scene, Zverev failed to make a name for himself at the Australian Open, suffering a 6-3, 7-6 6-3 loss to Denis Shapovalov in the fourth round.

Thus, the German could not repeat his result at Melbourne Park from 12 months ago when he pushed world no. 1 Novak Djokovic to the limits in a 6-7, 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 loss. The encounter lasted three and a half hours, and the German gave his best to follow the rival's pace and at least force a decider.

Alexander built an early lead in three sets, only to squander it and find himself on the negative side, as always against the top-10 opponents at Major events. Zverev had a set point in the fourth set's closing stages but squandered it to propel Djokovic into the last four.

Novak won ten points more than Alexander and fired 23 aces in comparison to 21 from his rival. The Serb defended nine out of 12 break chances to limit the damage and seized six breaks from nine opportunities to emerge at the top despite a massive battle.

Novak lost serve in the encounter's first game after a double fault and defended a break chance at 1-3 to remain within one break deficit. Alexander squandered a set point on the return at 5-3 and got broke while serving for the set in game ten.

They reached the tie break, and Zverev grabbed an extended point at 6-6 before closing the opener with an unreturned serve after an hour. Starting all over, Djokovic earned a break in the second set's first game and fired a backhand down the line winner in game three to extend the advantage.

The Serb served well in the rest of the set and wrapped it up with an ace at 5-2 after 28 minutes. Zverev made a strong start in the third set, took 13 out of 16 points and opened a 3-0 gap.

Alexander Zverev lost to Novak Djokovic in Melbourne last year.

Alexander saved a break chance in the fifth game with a forehand winner to remain in front, and Novak smashed his racquet in anger once the game was done.

As many times before, that helped him a lot, and he claimed 20 of the last 26 points to steal the set and gain a massive boost. After a double fault in the seventh game, Alexander lost the break and sprayed a backhand mistake at 4-4 to fall behind.

Djokovic closed the tenth game home at 15, rattling off five straight games and looking like a favorite in the fourth. Like the previous one, Alexander moved 3-0 up before losing the lead to keep Novak in contention. The defending champion saved two break points at 3-4 in one of the pivotal moments and survived the tenth game with an ace.

Zverev held at love in game 11 and created a set point in the next one after a backhand down the line winner. Novak denied it with an ace and introduced another tie break, a must-win one for the German. They hit winners in the opening five points before Alexander moved 5-4 up with an ace down the T line.

Novak grabbed the next two points on serve for a match point that Alexander saved for more drama. Djokovic scored a mini-break in the 13th point and sealed the deal with an ace for his ninth Australian Open semi-final. "I thought I showed very good tennis, but somewhere it was also a disappointing trip for me.

In my career now, I am where I no longer want to play good tournaments and matches but to win. Unfortunately, I did not do that here. The Australian summer showed that I could compete and beat the rivals from the top. I take a lot of positive things with me.

But all in all, it was disappointing that I was out in the quarter-finals, even though it was against the world's best player," Alexander Zverev said.