The 22-year-old Alexander Zverev came to Melbourne with no form or expectations, losing all three matches at the ATP Cup and playing way below his usual level. Nonetheless, the German has found the form in the right moment, beating five rivals at Melbourne Park in great style to reach the first Major semi-final, finally taking that extra step and waiting for Rafael Nadal or Dominic Thiem in the battle for the place in the final.
In the quarters, Alexander took down a former champion Stan Wawrinka 1-, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in two hours and 19 minutes, overcoming a slow start and the first set he lost this year in Melbourne to reign supreme in the rest of the encounter and book his spot in the last four.
After massive problems with his initial shot at the ATP Cup, Zverev is doing everything right with his serve so far at the Australian Open, landing 80% of the first serve in against Stan and blasting 13 aces and only one double fault.
He struggled on the second serve, though, getting broken three times and delivering five breaks from 13 opportunities to leave Wawrinka behind and stay on the title course. With 34 winners and 28 unforced errors, the German tamed his strokes nicely, repelling the rival's attacks and producing more damage with his first serve to cross the finish line first.
Stan took charge in the opener, barely losing a point on serve and breaking Alexander twice for a comfortable 6-1 after 24 minutes. The Swiss picked up an early break in the second game and extended the advantage to a 4-0 following a loose forehand from Zverev who was yet to find his shots.
Serving for the set, Wawrinka held with a service winner in game seven, standing strong on the court so far and hoping for more of the same in the rest of the clash. With no room for further errors, Alexander raised his game to another level in set number two, producing five perfect holds at love and stealing Stan's serve in the eighth game to move 5-3 up.
Serving for the set, the youngster fired three winners in the ninth game to close the set and gain the momentum after 58 minutes, ignoring that terrible start and finding his best tennis in those moments. They kicked off the third set with back-to-back breaks and it was Zverev who served well in the remaining four games, mounting the pressure on the other side of the net and clinching a break in the fifth game when Stan netted a backhand slice.
The Swiss saved two set points in the ninth game to prolong the set before the German held at 30 in the next game to open two sets to one lead and take a big step towards the finish line. With nothing left in the tank, Wawrinka couldn't do much in set number four, creating no damage on the return and getting broken twice to propel Alexander over the finish line.
Zverev broke in the first game thanks to a loose backhand from Wawrinka and grabbed another break in the third game after a backhand mistake from the Swiss who was drifting further and further away from a favorable result.
A service winner sent the youngster 4-0 up, squandering break chances in the next game but sealing the deal on his own serve at 5-2 to book the place in the semis and grab another important victory on his best Major journey in a career so far.