Novak Djokovic was given a stern test by sixth seed Alexander Zverev, but the Serb battled 6-7 (6-8) 6-2 6-4 7-6 (8-6) four-set win over Germany’s Alexander Zverev to reach his 39th Grand Slam semi-final at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
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Djokovic hit back strongly after losing a tight opening set on a tiebreak but trailed in both the third and fourth sets before turning them around.
Afterwards, Djokovic said he was still troubled by the abdominal injury and that perhaps contributed to the tetchiness he showed after allowing the momentum to shift back to Zverev in the third set.
Shortly after sitting at the back of the court while Zverev changed racquets, illustrating his exasperation at the delay, Djokovic erupted as he went 4-1 behind.
Djokovic saved nine of 12 break points, including a set point at 5-6 in the fourth set with an ace, to earn his sixth ATP Head2Head victory in eight matches against Zverev.
Following that tightly-contested Zverev service game, Djokovic blew his top, smashing his racquet four times on the court before throwing it away as he walked to his bench.
The Serb will face Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev, who beat an injured Grigor Dimitrov, on Thursday.
“Down to the very last shot, it was anybody’s match,” said Djokovic, who could only manage a wry smile after taking his second match point with an ace.
“I started to regain my focus after I broke my racquet and things started to shift for me in a positive direction.”
“Emotionally I feel a little bit drained, it was a real battle. We pushed each other to the limit.”