Paris | Alcaraz and Zverev make the final

The match of the French Open, featuring the current two best players in the world, didn’t live up to the ‘blockbuster’ expectations, but it did provide fans with one of the best matches of this year’s major clay court championships.

The toughest matches that I have played in my short career have been against Jannik = the US Open in 2022, this one. Jannik is a great player. Carlos Alcaraz

Much is expected of the two over the coming decade and it is clear that there is a lot of respect already between them as they fought out their ninth meeting of their young blossoming careers.

Carlos Alcaraz and Yannik Sinner battled it out as expected, over four hours and 8-minutes before the 21-year-old Spaniard secured a place in the final 2-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3 where he hopes to add the French Open trophy to those he has already collected at the US Open and Wimbledon.

For the 22-year-old Italian, the player of the season so far who will be confirmed as the world No.1 on Monday, it is a disappointing end but there can be no doubt that he will add some more majors to the Australian Open title he collected at the beginning of this year. He has so far won 34 matches which includes three titles and lost just three so he is still the player to beat.

The match itself was one of those which swung back and forth as one would dominate for a period, and then the other, as the score line suggests.

Sinner certainly came out with a more positive approach storming into a 4-0 lead before Alcaraz could respond and he did to get one of the breaks back only to immediately concede his serve for a third time to go 2-5 down and virtually hand the first set to his rival, who claimed it on his third set point after 44-minutes.

At this stage it looked very one-sided as the Alcaraz forehand was misfiring and the unforced errors mounted with the Italian opening the second by capturing the Spaniard’s serve again and going into a 2-0 lead.

And then seemingly out of the blue, the match turned on its head as Alcaraz strung together five games in a row to go 5-2 up and while Sinner managed to stop the run, he couldn’t prevent Alcaraz levelling at a set-all.

Now Alcaraz’s forehand was finding its mark and his confidence was obviously growing but Sinner was not rolling over.

In the third Alcaraz broke for 2-1. Sinner broke for 2-2 and crucially held for 3-2, recovering from 15-40 down but showing first indications of possible cramping.

Having saved four break points, he received some physio at the change over and immediately broke Alcaraz with a screaming backhand cross court winner past the incoming Spaniard. That was enough for him to pull ahead 2-1 in sets as Alcaraz seemingly became more passive and Sinner shortened the points to grab the initiative.

The fourth proved a bit of a tug of war as the pair fought for the initiative and it wasn’t until the ninth game and after a brief pause for a spectator to receive some treatment, that Alcaraz gained the upper hand to level the match for a second time.

In the fifth, Alcaraz maintained the momentum breaking for 3 love and while Sinner pressed hard, he never looked able to recover and, while he managed to hold off two match points, he couldn’t the third.

It had been a battle of nerves but on the day, Alcaraz proved to be the more resolute of the pair hitting 65 winners to Sinner’s 39. He showed more variety of shot and in some ways, was the more patient and adapted his game accordingly.

Carlos Alcaraz celebrates as Jannik Sinner packs up.

Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Alcaraz admitted after the match that it had been one of the toughest he has played.

“You have to find the joy in suffering,” he said. “That is the key, even more here on clay at Roland Garros. Long rallies, four-hour matches, five-sets. You have to fight, you have to suffer but as I told my team, you have to enjoy suffering.

“The toughest matches that I have played in my short career have been against Jannik = the US Open in 2022, this one. Jannik is a great player. The team he has as well and the great work he puts in every day — and I hope to play him many, many more matches like this against him. One of the toughest matches that I have played for sure.”

Alcaraz is into his third Grand Slam final and is the youngest player to reach three slam finals on different surfaces.

“I saw him struggling a little bit in the [third set], but I was cramping as well in the third set,” Alcaraz admitted “I learned from last year’s match against Djokovic and (when I) was in the same position today. But I learned you have to be calm, to keep going because the cramp is going to go away. You have to fight.

“The third set was a little bit weird, but the fourth set and fifth set were great points.”

Sinner’s 12-match Slam win streak is over but the fact that he was playing the event was a bonus as he had a thigh injury in Madrid and pulled out in the quarter finals.

Jannik Sinner congratualates Carlos Alcaraz

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

“I think it was a great match. For sure the sets he won he played better in the important points, no? I think that was the key,” Sinner said. “Obviously disappointed how it ended, but, you know, it’s part of my growing and the process. Thinking back, before the tournament reaching this point, I’m obviously very happy. In the other way, I’m disappointed about the match today.

“Now I’ll just keep looking forward to improve, trying to do the best I can, and then we see what I can do in the future here in this tournament. If we watch the positive side, I have improved from last year, for sure. There is another chance to play here for the Olympics. Then we see how it goes.”

The second semi-final followed with Alexander Zverev emerging as Alcaraz’s opponent in the final.

Alexander Zverev roars his delight at reaching his second Grand Slam final

(Photo by Tim Goode/Getty Images)

The German also rallied from a set down but once he had levelled, the German dominated proceedings against Casper Ruud, who had eliminated him at the same stage 12-months earlier.

The Norwegian, a Roland Garros finalist these past two years, stormed out early and looked the fresher player after three days off thanks to Novak Djokovic’s quarter final withdrawal.

Ruud, though, was suffering with a stomach issue and it eventually hit hard in the second allowing Zverev to recover and dominate with his serve and eventually pull away for a 2-6 6-2 6-4 6-2 victory to reach his second Slam final.

“I am extremely happy,” Zverev said. “I have so much history on this court and had some of the best memories and worst memories on this court. I am so happy to be in the final finally on my fourth semi-final. I am going to give it my all on Sunday.

“I thought the first two sets were very high level. End of third set I saw he started to move a bit slower. That is normally how it is when you are not feeling quite well,” he said. “But his shots are still the same. So, if you look at how he moves and all that and if you start to be a bit more passive, he is going to win the match. Credit to him to play until the end and fight until the end. He is a great champion and a great person.”

As regard the final, Zverev holds a 5-4 win-loss record against Alcaraz, and also leads him 2-1 in Slams and on clay. Zverev beat Alcaraz at the Australian Open this year and at the French in 2022.

Casper Ruud congratulates Alexander Zverev on reaching the final

Photo by Frey/TPN/Getty Images)



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