© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Seventh seed Alexander Zverev celebrates beating 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka on Wednesday in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

Zverev Reiterates Prize Money Pledge: 'I Could Start Something Positive'

By changing up tournament preparations, German star is reaping dividends

Following his first-round win over Marco Cecchinato, Alexander Zverev pledged to donate “every single cent” of his prize money if he went on to lift the Australian Open trophy. On Wednesday, now two victories away from capturing his first Grand Slam title, the German reiterated the post-match statement of 21 January.

“When I first said it, everybody came up to me,” admitted Zverev, who has already confirmed a AU$50,000 donation — AU$10,000 for every one of his five match wins at Melbourne Park. “I am going to do it. It's not a problem for me. Players couldn't really believe it... I just believe with this money, I could start something positive. This is what matters most to me, not what somebody else thinks about it.

“My parents grew up in the [former] Soviet Union. My dad would make money outside the country, but he would have to give it away when he was getting into the country. Funny enough, for them, where they never had any money, you would think that now maybe we have some, you want to keep it all for yourself. But they always said that money is something that should cause change in the world and should be put into a good thing. Not [to] keep it in a bank account and do nothing with it.

“Of course, if I win the AU$4 million, it's a lot of money for me. I'm not Roger [Federer], I'm not LeBron James, something like that. This is still big. But at the same time, I know that there's people right now in this country, in this beautiful country, that lost their homes and actually they need the money. They actually depend on it, building up their homes again, building up the nature that Australia has, the animals as well. I think there's much better use for those people with that money than I have right now.”

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Seventh seed Zverev advanced to his first major championship semi-final on Wednesday by beating 2014 champion Stan Wawrinka 1-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. For the 22-year-old, who'd reached the 2018 and 2019 Roland Garros quarter-finals, it’s been a long time coming.

“I've done well at other tournaments. I've won [three] ATP Masters 1000s and the [2018 Nitto] ATP Finals," said Zverev. "But the Grand Slams were always the weeks where I kind of even wanted it too much. I was doing things in a way too professional. 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. 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 [to be] in the semi-finals or quarter-finals. Maybe this is a stepping-stone. Maybe this is how it should happen. We'll see how it goes now in two days’ time.”

Zverev, who has a better balance and is happier off the court now, will next play fifth-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem for a place in Sunday’s final.

“As I said to all of you guys, it was going to be a process [at the] beginning of the week with the first few matches,” said Zverev. “I hope I could just get through them and start playing them better as the tournament gets along. This is what happened. 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!”