• Meanwhile, Serena Williams said she was moving around the court as well as she has in a long while after beating Simona Halep in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
• The 23-year-old Zverev began in confident fashion and secured the first break of the match but failed to convert a set point on Djokovic’s serve when leading 5-3.
Reigning champion Novak Djokovic overcame some dips in form to beat Alexander Zverev 6-7(6) 6-2 6-4 7-6(6) and book his place in the Australian Open semi-finals on Tuesday.
The Serbian world number one 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.
Germany’s Zverev will rue allowing Djokovic back from 4-1 down in the third set and he was also up 3-0 in the fourth.
Djokovic again wore tape on his abdominal area, a legacy of the injury picked up in his third-round win over Taylor Fritz. But it did not appear to bother him as he reached his 39th Grand Slam semi-final, where he will face an unlikely opponent in Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev.
The 23-year-old Zverev began in confident fashion and secured the first break of the match but failed to convert a set point on Djokovic’s serve when leading 5-3.
He wavered on his own serve at 5-4 though, and Djokovic took the set into a tiebreak, only for some uncharacteristic errors to allow Zverev to sneak a 59-minute set.
Djokovic needed only 29 minutes to win the second set but his level dropped at the start of the third, and he destroyed a racket in anger as he slipped 4-1 behind.
Zverev was 0-30 ahead on Djokovic’s serve in the next game but Djokovic found another gear, winning 20 of the next 24 points to move one set from victory.
Another momentum shift saw Zverev take a 3-0 lead in the fourth set and have three points to move 4-0 ahead, but Djokovic dug in to haul himself back into contention.
Zverev threatened to take the match into a decider but Djokovic saved a set point at 5-6 with an ace and a powerful first serve brought up match point in the day’s second tiebreak.Djokovic netted a backhand but forced a volley error from Zverev to earn another chance, this time on his own serve, and he wrapped up the match with his 23rd ace.
Meanwhile, Serena Williams said she was moving around the court as well as she has in a long while after beating Simona Halep in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
World number two Halep is no slouch around the court, and the pair shared 52 rallies of five shots or more during a heavyweight contest on Rod Laver Arena.
Williams won 30 of them and joked that it had been a “long minute” since she felt she would more often than not walk away from such exchanges with the point.
“I think 1926, the summer of 1926 I think was the last time I felt that,” the 39-year-old smiled.
“But I’m good at rallying and I have to embrace the things I’m good at. I’m good at playing power, I’m good at hitting a hundred balls. And that’s one thing that’s unique about me that I just need to kind of accept and embrace and just be good at both.”
In the second set of Tuesday’s match, Williams displayed great mobility to win successive points after long rallies — one of 21 shots, one of 13 — and secure what proved to be a decisive break of serve.
“Movement has always been one of my strengths, and so it’s actually more natural for me to move than for me not to,” she added. “So it was just kind of, ‘Oh, that’s how I used to move’, so it’s pretty good. I’m happy that I’m doing that again and that I put it back into my game.”
Williams, who has never failed to reach the final after getting to the last four at Melbourne Park, will play Naomi Osaka in the semi-finals.
The seven-time Australian Open champion was reluctant to talk about what kind of challenge the Japanese third seed would present on Thursday.
“First of all, I’m in the semi-final. That’s pretty awesome. So that’s exciting,” she said. “And then it doesn’t matter who I’m playing really in the semi-final. It’s a semi-final of a Grand Slam. No one gets there by chance, so I have got to be ready.”