Underdog Alexander Zverev in New Territory at Australian Open
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Alexander Zverev has been a revelation at the Australian Open and he is through to his first Grand Slam semi-final.
After going a set down against Stan Wawrinka, he blitzed past the 2014 champion in four sets – 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. But can he finally make the breakthrough?
Entering New Territory
Before the tournament, Zverev was unfancied as he was offered general odds of +1600 to lift a maiden major.
Serving yips had been his undoing at the ATP Cup where he lost all three of his singles ties, but since then, he has been a player transformed.
Before his win over Wawrinka, the 22-year-old hadn't dropped a set. Against Wawrinka, he showed battling qualities and his stats were impressive as he rained down 13 aces, made just one double fault and won 76 per cent of points on his first serve.
Zverev, who had joked after his win over Wawrinka that he had imagined fronting the press as a loser in straight sets, is now in unfamiliar territory.
While he has proved himself at Masters level, he has faltered at the Slams. However, the world number seven – who has been tipped over the past few years to break up the traditional 'Big Three' – has a greater belief in his game.
His coruscating forehand and ability to serve and volley, which he used to good effect against Wawrinka, makes him a formidable opponent for anyone. Zverev's odds have shortened as he is now trading at a best price of +1000 with Sugar House to go all the way in Melbourne.
Moving Ahead Of Roger
Tough obstacles still lie ahead for Zverev, who has pledged to donate his entire prize money to bushfire relief if he clinches the Australian Open.
Interestingly, Zverev has moved ahead of Roger Federer in the outright market with the Swiss great tucked in behind at +1200 with BETMGM.
Federer has had some bruising battles as he has already had to come through two five-setters, including saving seven match points against Tennys Sandgren in the quarter-finals.
Arguably, Federer is one of the more vulnerable players in the draw, but from Zverev's perspective, he will feel his time is now.
Novak Djokovic still remains firm favourite to lift a record-extending eighth crown with a best price of -275 with Caesars.