- Alexander Zverev has had to dig deep at Australian Open
- Battled through four matches to reach quarter-finals
- Next faces in-form world number two Carlos Alcaraz
- Zverev, 26, has also denied allegations he assaulted his ex
The numbers suggest otherwise, but polarising German star Alexander Zverev insists he’s in far better shape to take on Carlos Alcaraz than in their most recent grand slam clash.
The pair will square off in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park on Wednesday after meeting at the same stage in last year’s US Open.
The Spanish world No.2 swept past Zverev in straight sets in New York, with the German looking ragged after being on court for 14 hours and 15 minutes through his four rounds – compared to his rival’s eight hours and 36 minutes.
Four months on in Melbourne, the numbers are almost the same.
Zverev has spent 13 hours and 47 minutes in play and been taken to five sets twice, including in his fourth-round win over Britain’s Cameron Norrie.
Despite spending five hours more on court, polarising German Alexander Zverev insists he’s in good physical shape to take on world number two Carlos Alcaraz ahead of their quarter-final at Melbourne Park
Carlos Alcaraz of Spain has cruised into the final eight at Melbourne Park in impressive fashion
It’s not just on court the 26-year-old has been under pressure, with Zverev facing questions over allegations he assaulted his former partner in 2020.
The matter set down for trial in a Berlin court in May.
In contrast, a fresh Alcaraz, 20, has only spent eight hours and 42 minutes in action, dropping just one set in his march to the final eight.
The reigning Wimbledon champion, who also won the US Open in 2022, Alcaraz demolished Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4 6-4 6-0 in a one-sided fourth-round contest.
Still searching for his maiden major title, Zverev said he was in a better physical state than at Flushing Meadows.
‘For sure if you play less you are fresher, but I feel OK,’ said Zverev, whose best grand slam result remains reaching the final of the 2020 US Open, where he lost in five sets to Dominic Thiem.
‘(It’s) not like the US Open, where I was completely dead and where I feel like I’m physically exhausted.
‘I’m tired, for sure, because I played 7-6 in the fifth set again two times out of the last three matches. But I’m not dead.
‘I’m not completely exhausted – I’m not in the same physical state I was in the US Open.’
A fired up Zverev declared ‘he isn’t dead’ and will relish the underdog tag against Alcaraz – the German is also facing allegations he assaulted his ex partner in 2020
The top-ranked German leads his head-to-head record against Alcaraz at 4-3, avenging his Flushing Meadows flogging with victory over the world No.2 at the ATP Finals in November.
The Spaniard hasn’t forgotten that result and says he needs to be at his best to secure his first semi-final slot in Melbourne.
‘The last time we faced each other I lost, so I have to focus on that,’ the young star said.
‘I have to improve my level from that match. ‘I love playing against him. It’s always a tough battle and I have to play my best level as he pushed me to play my 100 per cent every time.
‘I’m going to enjoy playing the quarter-finals against him and hopefully take the victory.’