Alexander Zverev beats Carlos Alcaraz in four sets to book French Open semi-final against Rafael Nadal
Alexander Zverev ended Carlos Alcaraz’s run at French Open as the No. 3 seed reached the semi-finals for the second straight year with a hard-fought 6-4 6-4 4-6 7-win 6 (7).
Despite the higher ranking, Zverev was seen as the underdog with the bookies heading into the quarter-final clash against the 19-year-old No.6 seed.
This was largely down to Alcaraz’s form in the build-up to Roland Garros, which included losing just four games by beating Zverev in the Madrid Open final earlier this month.
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However, on this occasion Zverev looked a cut above that previous encounter, with a superior service display and Alcaraz’s high unforced errors counting to help the German lead, as did a crucial 9-7 victory in a thrilling tiebreak in the fourth set.
“I was fucking my pants,” Zverev said on the pitch afterwards. “I knew I had to play my best tennis today from the start. He kept coming back. He’s an amazing player. I told him at net that he would win this tournament many times, not just once. J hope I can win before he starts beating us all and we don’t stand a chance!”
Zverev previously stoked the fire by claiming Alcaraz ‘gets what they want’ with the youngster having played three of his first four matches on Chatrier.
By contrast, Zverev had only played once on the main court, but he put on a calm figure early on, saving a break point in the second game of the first set before breaking three games later.
That was all the German needed to take the lead, with the 25-year-old closing the first set 6-4.
‘Not allowed to win this point’ – Alcaraz digs deep to win crazy rally against Zverev
With a view to reaching the semis again, Zverev continued to thwart Alcaraz, who was becoming visibly frustrated with his own number of errors, which ended his break chances in the fourth game of the second set.
Similar to the first set, Zverev then broke on converting his second opportunity in game seven before a third set love service game put him 5-3 ahead.
Alcaraz battled to hold before an epic eight-minute 10th game gave Zverev a two-set lead.
Watch Zverev seal the second set with a fierce ace against Alcaraz
Initially, a wayward volley and forehand saw Zverev trail 0-30, but after recovering and then failing to convert two set points, Alcaraz squandered a break point before Zverev got lucky for the third time. .
Alcaraz had 16 unforced errors in each of the first two sets and also trailed in serve stats, although it was mostly his failure to convert any of his three break points that saw him stare defeat.
Zverev, meanwhile, was out to finish the job in three, and the third set went quickly without a deuce or break point opportunity in the first eight games.
Superb drop shot from Alcaraz stuns Zverev
Then came Zverev’s chance to strike, but at 30-40 Alcaraz rallied and the fist regained its seat after winning the next three points, which included saving the break point with a drop shot.
With Zverev serving to stay in the set, Alcaraz sensed an opportunity, and a forehand pass brought two set points and some, it must be said, Nadal-esque celebrations behind the baseline.
He only needed a chance, too, with another bunt forcing Zverev’s error as Alcaraz came back into the game with a timely first break and a set.
“He has it!” – Alcaraz takes the third set against Zverev in a fierce battle
The prelude to Djokovic-Nadal seemed on track to collide with the scheduled start time of this game at 7:45 p.m., but the crowd inside Chatrier seemed eager to have a decider before those who had tickets for the night session do not replace them.
Alcaraz, who had the majority of support, hoped that would be the case, but although he apparently made inroads on Zverev’s serve, it was the German who broke first in game nine, packed under the shape of an Alcaraz. double fault.
It saw Zverev serve for the game but in a bold response Alcaraz broke at 15 to make it 5-5 and keep their hopes alive.
‘Wow, that’s the spark’ – Alcaraz fires back at Zverev with searing forehand
A breaker soon followed, and it ebbed back and forth before Alcaraz managed to convert the first set point by serving at 6-5 and sending a forehand into the net.
Zverev then brought match point on his own serve, but like Alcaraz, he found the net as a mesmerizing tie-break made it 7-7.
Serve seemed to matter little in terms of advantage in the breaker, but after recovering from that earlier disappointment to take the lead at 8-7, Zverev then sent a superb winner on Alcaraz’s serve to seal it. 9-7.
“For me, when it’s shaded and much slower, it’s not perfect for me,” Zverev said afterwards. “I haven’t been broken once when it was sunny, it was a lot faster. I had to adjust my ropes too.
“The game was [going] his way. I’m glad I didn’t have to play a five-set; I didn’t have to be disappointed after the match in five sets like I was last year after the semi-finals. I’m still in the tournament. Usually I’m a very good talker, but right now I can’t talk.
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