French Open men’s semi-finals: Alcaraz sees off Sinner, Zverev beats Ruud – as it happened

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his statement semi-final victory over Jannik Sinner – and he’s shown that he can produce on the biggest stage having won two slams already. Plus I think Alcaraz just has that bit extra. What is certain is that we will have a new French Open champion – and for the first time since a certain muscly Spanish teenager rocked up at Roland Garros in 2005 the final will not feature Nadal, Federer or Djokovic. Thanks for reading – do join us on Sunday and for the women’s final between Iga Swiatek and Jasmine Paolini tomorrow. Bye!

French Open final! Much credit to Zverev for how he’s played; it’s never easy staying focused when facing an ailing opponent but Zverev has been ruthless since losing the first set.Carlos Alcaraz. 30-all on Ruud’s serve … Zverev is pushing and probing … but Ruud shows great character to win the next two points and hold. He’s almost certainly just delaying the inevitable, though.French Open hopes too. Zverev is ready to play; he doesn’t want any shift in momentum. Ruud trudges back on to court and will serve first in this fourth set; at least that’s an advantage for him. But not if Zverev breaks, which the German is threatening to do at 15-30. Ruud didn’t even attempt to run to Zverev’s winner on that third point. 15-40, two break points. And Zverev takes the second when Ruud has to stretch to a backhand, which he slices into the net!French Open final!French Open semi-final last year, when Ruud dominated Zverev 6-3, 6-4, 6-0. But Ruud’s level dips at the start of the second set, as he slips to 0-30 on serve. Zverev has a chance to make it 0-40 but makes the error. 15-30. Zverev glances up to his dad in the stands, who’s also his coach. And here are two break points for Zverev! Just as he had the chance to break in Ruud’s first service game in the opening set. Ruud runs to the net to dismiss the danger on the first break point; but Zverev hits a biting return on the second and Ruud is unable to recover! “LET’S GO!” screams Zverev.French Open – and he will now be free to focus on his tennis going into Wimbledon and then the Olympics. The case has cast a shadow over his wins during this tournament, and Zverev’s team were perhaps keen to resolve this before he possibly becomes a grand slam champion on Sunday.

So, what of Zverev v Ruud? Well, after Alcaraz’s victory in the battle between the leaders of the new generation – this match that can described as the battle of the nearly men. Both are still looking for their first grand slam title; both have lost in major finals previously.

Zverev was denied in the 2020 US Open final by Dominic Thiem, despite having led by two sets to love, and has also been beaten in six slam semi-finals – including at Roland Garros for the past three years.

It was Ruud who defeated Zverev in Paris last year – but the Norwegian was put in his place by Novak Djokovic in the final, having also suffered a straight-sets defeat to Rafael Nadal in the 2022 final. He also came off second best in the 2022 US Open final against Alcaraz.

But while Zverev has long been considered a grand slam champion in waiting, Ruud is seen as someone who’s exceeded expectations and made the absolute most of his ability – a talent maximiser, you could say. Perhaps that means there’s a little more pressure on Zverev’s tall shoulders this evening – let’s see if he treats that as a privilege or a burden.

I certainly think it’ll be closer than last year, when Ruud demolished Zverev 6-3, 6-4, 6-0. Zverev is playing better now and possesses the bigger shots – except for that fallible forehand. Ruud has consistency, agility and an ability to dig deep on his side; he’s such a tough competitor over five sets at Roland Garros. Yet Zverev has shown in his two five-set wins this tournament that he’s happy to go the distance. Fancy another four-hour showdown after Alcaraz v Sinner? Sure you do!

We’re expecting Zverev and Ruud to step on to court in about 10/15 minutes. It’s separate tickets for each semi-final – so the fans who watched Alcaraz v Sinner have been kicked out of Chatrier – though they can’t be too disappointed after watching that. The new spectators are starting to filter in.


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