Zverev reach first Grand Slam semi


Germany's Alexander Zverev said a more relaxed approach had worked wonders at the Australian Open and helped him break a mental barrier to make his first Grand Slam semi-final.The 22-year-old rallied from a set down to shatter the dreams of 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, reports AFP.

Big things have been tipped for Zverev since he burst into the top 10 in 2017, but until now he has not fully delivered at the Majors.

But after a poor build-up to the year's opening Major at the ATP Cup, where he lost all three matches, he worked hard on the practice court and changed his routine to take the pressure off. 

"I mean, I've done well at other tournaments. I've won Masters Series, World Tour Finals. But the Grand Slams were always the week where I kind of even wanted it too much," he said.

"I was doing things in a way too professional way. I was not talking to anybody. 

I wasn't going out with friends. I wasn't having dinner. I was just really almost too focused."

"I changed that a little bit this week," he added.

"I'm doing much more things outside the court. I also was playing that bad at ATP Cup that I didn't have any expectations. I wasn't really expecting myself in the semi-finals or quarter-finals.

"Maybe this is a stepping stone. Maybe this is how it should happen."

He added that having his best friend, girlfriend and a close team around him also helped.

His reward is a clash against either Rafael Nadal or Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem in the last four, with a final beckoning against Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer.

"It feels awesome," said Zverev, who has been donating $10,000 for each win at Melbourne Park to Australian bushfire relief, and will even hand over the Aus$4.12 million ($2.78 million) winner's cheque if he clinches the title.

"I hope I can still continue to play better in the semi-finals and hopefully maybe in the final. The people that I'm going to play are not getting worse."