Heading to the Australian Open with three ATP Cup losses under his belt and no confidence, Alexander Zverev has found the form in the best possible moment, beating four rivals in straight sets for the first quarter-final in Melbourne.
The 22-year-old wasn't among the favorites when the tournament kicked off, struggling to find his best tennis throughout the last season and the beginning of the new one, also embracing a terrible 1-8 score against the rivals from the top-20 at Majors.
That all changed on Monday at Melbourne Arena, with the German defeating his junior doubles partner and coeval Andrey Rublev 6-4, 6-4, 6-4, setting the quarter-final clash with a former champion Stan Wawrinka on Wednesday.
The encounter lasted for an hour and 37 minutes and it was Zverev who had the upper hand against the rival who rattled off 15 straight victories before this encounter, already winning two ATP titles in 2020. Still, he couldn't find the answer today against the opponent who did just about everything right after hitting 34 winners and 23 unforced errors, never facing a break point and mounting the pressure on the other side of the net.
Landing 75% of the first serve in, Alexander dropped nine points behind the initial shot and converted three out of seven break opportunities for one successful return game in each set, enough to propel him over the finish line.
With 17 winners and 24 unforced errors, Rublev couldn't find his usual level, trailing all the time and finishing his fantastic streak in the fourth round. The opening set saw nine comfortable holds and one loose service game that cost Rublev the set and early momentum.
They needed 16 minutes to wrap up the opening six games before Alexander found the range on the return, earning a break at 15 when Andrey's drop shot failed to reach the net. The German cemented the break with a service winner in the next game, closing the first part of the match at 5-4 when Rublev sprayed a backhand error.
The Russian sent a forehand wide at the beginning of the second set to suffer a break at love, confirming the advantage with an ace and barely losing a point on serve in the rest of the set, securing it with a hold at love in game ten to open two sets to love advantage in less than an hour.
The German stood strong on serve in the third set as well, creating break chances in games five, seven and nine to keep Andrey under constant pressure. Rublev managed to take away the first four break chances before Zverev seized the fifth following a forehand mistake from his opponent, moving over the top with a volley winner at 5-4 to stay on the title course and reach the third Major quarter-final.