Carlos Alcaraz wins French Open semifinal in five-set epic, will face Alexander Zverev in final

Carlos Alcaraz wins French Open semifinal in five-set epic, will face Alexander Zverev in final
  • PublishedJune 8, 2024

Carlos Alcaraz has reached the French Open final, coming from behind to beat second seed Jannik Sinner in a classic, 2-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3.

He will face German fourth-seed Alexander Zverev in the final, after he emerged victorious from a battle with an ailing Casper Ruud, 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.

That sets up the first French Open men’s final without Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer since 2004.

Alcaraz became the youngest man to reach a grand slam final on all three surfaces after prevailing in a 4-hour and 9-minute epic.

“You have to find the joy [while] suffering,” the 21-year-old said.

“That’s the key — even more on clay, here at Roland Garros. Long rallies. Four-hour matches. Five sets. 

“You have to fight. You have to suffer. But as I told my team many, many times, you have to enjoy suffering.”

Carlos Alcaraz plays a shot
Carlos Alcaraz won fewer points than Jannik Sinner, 147-145(AP Photo: Christophe Ena)

Alcaraz has already won championships at the US Open in 2022 on hard courts and at Wimbledon in 2023 on grass — and now wants to emulate his heroes.

“I always wanted to be one of the best players in the world. If I want to be one of the best players in the world, I have to be a good player in every surface, like Roger [Federer] did, Novak [Djokovic], Rafa [Nadal], [Andy] Murray,” he said.

“The best players in the world had success in every surface.

“So I consider myself a player who adapts very well his style in every surface. And, well, I grew up playing on clay, but I feel more comfortable playing on hard court, for example.

“I think my game suits very well to the clay, to clay season, to the clay court, as well. So I just wanted to be a good player in every surface.”

Australian Open champion Sinner will move up to second in the world rankings despite his defeat, but was still able to find the positives.

“Obviously disappointed how it ended, but it’s part of my growing and the process,” Sinner said.

“The winner is happy, and then the loser tries to find a way to beat him the next time.”

The 22-year-old Italian showed up in Paris with a lingering hip injury that forced him to sit out the clay-court tournament in Rome last month. 

Jannik Sinner wipes his head
Jannik Sinner said Carlos Alcaraz played better in the most important points.(AP Photo: Christophe Ena)

Alcaraz missed that event, too, because of a right forearm issue that he said made him afraid to hit his booming forehands at full force.

Both men experienced physical problems in the third set. Alcaraz’s right hand began to cramp. Sinner had his right forearm and left thigh massaged by a trainer during changeovers.

It brought to mind last year’s French Open semifinal when Alcaraz got off to a terrific start against Djokovic but then dealt with full-body cramps that rendered the remainder of the match anticlimactic.

“I learned from last year’s match against Djokovic, when I was in the same position as today,” Alcaraz said. 

“I know that, in this moment, you have to be calm, you have to keep going because the cramp is going to go away. You have to stay there, fighting.”

He and Sinner are seen as the future of men’s tennis. 

The present isn’t too shabby, either. Even though this was not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing of their nine head-to-head meetings — Alcaraz leads 5-4 — and they combined for 102 unforced errors, there were moments of brilliance that generated duelling clap-accompanied chants of each man’s first name from the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd.

In the fifth set, with shadows covering more than half the court, Alcaraz moved out front by sliding until he could reach across his body to snap a backhand passing winner for a break point. 

A forehand winner — one of his 30 in the match — made it 2-0 at the three-and-a-hour mark, earning a yell of “Vamos!” from his coach, 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Soon, it was 3-0, and Alcaraz was on his way.

“It was a great match. For sure, the sets he won, he played better in the important points,” Sinner said. “That was the key.”

Zverev reaches settlement in domestic violence case, and the French Open final

Alexander Zverev clenches his fist
Alexander Zverev lost the opening set, but still won through to the French Open final.(AP Photo: Jean-Francois Badias)

Zverev, meanwhile, moved a win away from his first grand slam title with victory over Ruud.

Earlier in the day, a pending domestic violence court case in his native Germany was resolved.

The fourth-seeded Zverev had lost in the Roland Garros semifinals each of the past three years, including against number seven seed Ruud in 2023.

But despite losing the first set, he had no such troubles here.

Hours before Zverev’s semifinal began in Paris, word emerged from Berlin that he reached an out-of-court settlement with an ex-girlfriend who accused him of assault during a 2020 argument.

A district court in Berlin ended the trial, with the agreement of state prosecutors and lawyers for Zverev and his former partner, Brenda Patea, German news agency dpa reported.

Lawyers for Zverev, who was not required to appear in court during the proceeding, issued a statement saying there was no finding of admission or guilt. 

A lawyer for Patea did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

The 27-year-old Zverev always denied any wrongdoing and said before the French Open began that he was not concerned about how things would go in the case.


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