French Open quarter-finals: Zverev beats De Minaur after Andreeva stuns Sabalenka – as it happened

Estimated read time 21 min read

Aryna Sabalenka respectively. In the men’s, on the other hand, what was expected to happen happened, Alexander Zverev beating a game Alex de Minaur. Do join us again tomorrow for the women’s semis, but in the meantime, thanks for your company and peace out.

Jannik Sinner or Carlos Alcaraz, who meet in the other semi. But first, he has to face Casper Ruud – from whom he might receive a more thorough examination of just how good he now is.

Zverev 6-4 7-6(5) 6-4 De Minaur* The crowd are delighted they’re seeing more of this and who wouldn’t be? They and De Minaur are vibing off one another, but when he goes long on the forehand then serves into the net, he’s under it. Zverev, though, has dipped a bit, and quickly goes long himself … then of course he immediately ceases dipping, hitting hard from the back but with good angles to force 30-all. And when he properly gets after one, a forehand deep down the middle, De Minaur can’t respond, and is now down match-point! And again, we see another long rally … and again, it’s the Aussie who errs, a backhand into the net! Zverev will face Casper Ruud in Friday’s semi!

*Zverev 6-4 7-6(5) 5-4 De Minaur Zverev nets a backhand then lets his toss drop. Tension! Pressure! And a double follows! Pension! Tressure! The German is careful next point, De Minaur letting him off by going long on the forehand. A brutal rally follows, Zverev again hitting the harder, eventually eliciting the overhit; 30-all. But have a look! De Minaur scurries along the baseline like David Ferrer, and this time it’s Zverev who gets tight, going long to cede break-back point! Whereupon the Demon plays a demonic point, rushing the net – after Zverev goes safe on the forehand – to punch away a very fine volley! He’s still in the match!

Zverev 6-4 7-6(5) 5-3 De Minaur* In co-comms, Tim Henman notes that De Minaur’s chance was the second-set breaker in which he led 4-0; he’ll be devo’d to learn I don’t really agree. Ultimately – though maybe if he wins it, it changes the temperature – Zverev needs to play significantly less well than this for Demon to beat him over five. As in all individual sports, there’s an athletic ceiling that tends to determine how well someone does, and power is so crucial in tennis. Anyroad, De Minaur holds so Zverev will have to serve for it.

*Zverev 6-4 7-6(5) 5-2 De Minaur In comms, they point out that the break was the first of the match from the less wind-affected end, which means that Zverev is now serving from it; can De Minaur make something of it? Well he gets to 15-all, celebrating to get himself pumped, then an ace is called, he’s certain the ball was well long … and after a check, the umpire concurs. The next rally, though, ends when he goes fractionally long on the forehand and that feels like it’s happened a fair bit at crucial moments: De Minaur works the opportunity to play the shot he wants, then misses by a whisker. Still, a decent approach and volley earns him 30-40 … but Zverev does well to run down a drop then punch away a volley, even if, general circumstances, at least one of those gives him no chance. So, deuce it is, a big serve doing most of the work to earn advantage, and a big forehand followed by a deft forehand volley secures the consolidation. Zverev is a game away.

Zverev 6-4 7-6(5) 4-2 De Minaur* A long rally, then De Minaur swipes wide … then net cord does just enough, the finest clip bringing the ball to him faster than otherwise and he can’t control his response; 0-30, Zverev smelling the semi. And, though a pat at the net is shown to be in by a fibre, an unforced error is followed by a double, De Minaur’s pained moan evidencing the sense that this match is five to over.

*Zverev 6-4 7-6(5) 3-2 De Minaur Yup, De Minaur isn’t going to die wondering, again unloading the suitcase only to miss after opening the court for a winner down the line. He seems to then remonstrate with his box, blaming them for telling him to hit it harder – they’ll be relieved to know I think that’s good advice – and Zverev holds to 15. Both men are playing well now.

Zverev 6-4 7-6(5) 2-2 De Minaur* Since going down 0-4 in the tiebreak, Zverev has been by far the better player, but can he parlay that into a potentially decisive break? He’s feeling good when a De Minaur groundstroke is called out, only for the umpire to overrule on inspection; they replay the point, and down comes an ace. A mahoosive forehand then makes 30-0 – this is is excellent from the Aussie – but at 40-0 he goes long, then makes an error after coming in, patting into the net with Zverev stranded. And, well, eesh: a double follows, deuce handed over … so another colossal serve is disbursed, De Minaur turning up the power before outlasting the German in another brutal rally. He’s doing absolutely everything he can here.

*Zverev 6-4 7-6(5) 2-1 De Minaur A dominant hold from Zverev … but of course as I type, De Minaur spanks a forehand down the line, flat, for a clean winner and 40-15; a long backhand then hands over the hold.

Zverev 6-4 7-6(5) 1-1 De Minaur* Each man goes long, taking us to 15-all, so De Minaur carves a lush drop that’s far too good … only to be outlasted in the next rally. He badly needs a hold here – you’d fear for him if he’s broken – and he gets it to 30. Zverev, by the way, has stuff going on beyond this match.

*Zverev 6-4 7-6(5) 1-0 De Minaur during change of ends, Zverev jaws at the umpire – he received a time violation courtesy of his excessive ball-bouncing, which I must’ve missed taking a comfort break; apologies. Anyroad, it’ll take a big effort from Demon to respond here – he’s done everything he can, is still down 0-2, and somehow needs to find breaks of serve or win a breaker. But he makes 30-all, so Zverev bounces his ball 13 times, not his usual 12, and slams down a service winner, securing the game with a clever slice and forehand down the line.

Zverev 6-4 7-6(5) De Minaur Well in a rally he’d done well to stay in, helped by a net-cord, Zverev makes a forehand error – De Minaur is hitting to that wing more often now, why he didn’t from the start a mystery. He tries the same tactic next point too but doesn’t offer much more to make it harder; eventually he nets, so we’re back on serve at 4-5. And, er, eesh, is Demon tightening? Another error ruins a point he’s well in then, at the end of the longest rally of the match, 39 strokes, he ups the pace on a forehand down the line and plays a decent slice … but Zverev gets it back, anticipates the pass, and the Aussie can’t return. Set point to the German during which he tries a lob of his own – it’s not deft but it does the trick – seizing momentum in the rally, and De Minaur soon nets. From 0-4 down, playing silllily, Zverev stopes it up and looks impregnable now; he’s 5-0 on breakers in this tournament; as we said, power tends to decide them.

Zverev 6-4 6-6 (3-4) De Minaur Zverev misses with the forehand by a fortnight, but a netted backhand means he’s one mini-break back at 1-4; consecutive holds, power reupped, and it’s tight again.

Zverev 6-4 6-6 (0-3) De Minaur Oh yes! De Minaur again guesses right with Zverev poised to finish a rally, but even then, he’s to find a forehand cross-court winner that breaks the sideline … and he does, securing a 2-0 lead and with it the mini-break. And what on earth! Another miserable shot falls long and wide; Demon is in charge here!

*Zverev 6-4 6-6 De Minaur A gorgeous backhand volley, swerving away, makes 30-0, but have a look! A return loops high, Zverev comes in with the whole court at which to aim … only to swipe wide! We wind up at 40-30 and Zverev, loping in to put away a backhand, De Minaur having backed away to the opposite corner … goes long! That is some very bad behaviour, but will he be punished for it? Maybe! A lovely slice draws Zverev to the net with no telling response apparent, and when a nothing shot arrives, a perfect lob raises set point; it’s saved but only just, an overhead sent back to the man, but De Minaur can’t control his forehand so we arrive at deuce. Then return to it when he powers a forehand winner, Zverev having bunted from the back awaiting the error. But from there, the German closes out, and as ever, it’s hard not to expect the power to make the difference in the breaker. But De Minaur is playing the more confident tennis currently.

Zverev 6-4 5-6 De Minaur* Up 15-0, De Minaur overhits to the corner, but he was playing the right shot, looking to end the rally quickly; Zverev then does similar, opening up the angle for the shot he wants to hit, then botching it with excessive power. And what a point Demon plays at 30-15, Zverev reasing a putaway and deflecting a lob which De Minaur misses with a wild air-swing, only to scurry around it, send it back into play, and eventually win the point; brilliant! From there, he closes out to secure himself a breaker minimum; can Zverev hang in there?

*Zverev 6-4 5-5 De Minaur Zverev doesn’t do enough at the net, a poor forehand volley – following an excellent approach – offering the pass, and when it comes even his 36m wingspan can’t get it back. For all the difference it makes, the hold secured to 15.

Zverev 6-4 4-5 De Minaur* Two big forehands help De Minaur to 30-0, and an ace, his first of the match secures a hold to 15. That’s a not insignificant advantage given Zverev will soon serve from the tricky end.

*Zverev 6-4 4-4 De Minaur And a nice inside-out backhand to the corner makes 15-all, then a drop sets up a net exchange that ends when Zverev catches up with a lob only to rush a response into the net; 30-all. From there, though, Zverev closes out, De Minaur doing all sorts to stay in the final rally before chopping into the net. With Demon next to serve from the difficult end, these next two games could be pivotal.

Zverev 6-4 3-4 De Minaur* Whaddaya know, when Zverev makes another mistake for 30-15, we learn that he has 27 unforced errors to De Minaur’s 23; I stand corrected, though perhaps the Aussie is making them in long rallies so they stand out. Either way, he’s playing better now, looking to be more aggressive and get points over quicker; he holds easily and will now look to get after the Zverev serve.

*Zverev 6-4 3-3 De Minaur I’m not totally sure what De Minaur’s gameplan is here; to my untrained eye at least, there’s nothing he’s doing loads of apart from ending long rallies with unforced errors. He makes 0-15 though … only to face 30-15 after two volleys are too good. But when a net-cord takes a Zverev backhand wide, he’s a sniff at 30-all, and superior slicing raises break-back point … then a double converts it! Just when it looked like the direction of travel was certain, a twist!

Zverev 6-4 3-2 De Minaur* A strange rally to bring, Zverev assuming a ball’s going wide only for it to catch the line. He rustles up a swift response but De Minaur cleans up at the net, only to find himself with no response when a backhand hurtles past him down the line for 15-all. And when he doesn’t do enough with an overhead, you know he’s going to lose the point because that’s how this match is going; he’ll be relieved when, in a rally he was losing, when Zverev looks for his winner, he drops wide. You sense, though, that a break is coming, and shonuff a double offers the opportunity, then a surprisingly high bounce secures it, and from that same end; De Minaur is in all sorts.

*Zverev 6-4 2-2 De Minaur Zverev catches the top of the net to cede 0-15, then a fine backhand cross alters the flow of the next rally and suddenly De Minaur has 0-30. Normal service is soon resumed, though, another baseline exchange ended via error for 30-all, then an excellent chop behind a less than excellent approach kisses the line to make 40-30 and from there, the game is secured.

Zverev 6-4 1-2 De Minaur* A hooked forehand winner earns Zverev 15-all, but he then nets a forehand when nicely positioned, remonstrating with his coach whose fault it is. This match is moving now, De Minaur quickly closing out, and this now feels more like the kind of match he needs: quick, with the set decided by a point here or there, not full of sapping rallies with accentuate the power differential between the two.

*Zverev 6-4 1-1 De Minaur Again, a long rally ends when De Minaur errs, then another when Zverev dictates; the Aussie is starting to lose patience with himself luzzing ball into net following his next unforced, and another love hold follows.

Zverev 6-4 0-1 De Minaur* Just what De Minaur needs, a love hold. I fear for him because generally speaking, underdogs need to win from the front. But if he can find a way of sneaking this set, he’s in business.

*Zverev 6-4 De Minaur A kicking second serve forces a long return, but a dematerialised overhead, set up by a good, early backhand, brings us to 15-all. Then, just as 30-15 looks guaranteed, Zverev assumed a drop isn’t coming back and when it does, can’t adjust to play it. Another long rally follows, D-Min doing all he can to stick in it … until he errs, and that appears to be a problem: he’s insufficiently metronomic to lengthen points. A body-serve is then returned long, the set secured by violent backhand cross-court and appearing to tell us what we already knew: De Minaur is good and much better than he was, but he doesn’t have a route to victory in this match-up.

Zverev 5-4 De Minaur* A service-winner followed by a wide backhand bring us to 15-all, Zverev’s weight of shot inciting errors. But two fractionally long groundstrokes make 40-15, and from there, De Minaur forces him to serve out the set.

*Zverev 5-3 De Minaur Consecutive errors from Zverev cede 0-30 without the wind intervening, but three poor shots from De Minaur hand over game-point, and an ace down the T does the rest.

Zverev 4-3 De Minaur* It feels like De Minaur is already doing all he can while Zverev has gears, and after an error cedes 0-15, he stays patient in the next two rallies to await the error, earning 0-40 and three break points. The firsrt disappears with a makeable forehand sent wide, but a double means he doesn’t have to do anything else, and it’s beginning to look like serving into the wind is a problem, all three breaks coming from the end to umpire’s left.

*Zverev 3-3 De Minaur I said earlier that Zverev has improved a lot since returning from injury and his net-play is a big part of that; he’s perfectly positioned to put away a volley for 15-0. And though he makes hard work of securing the hold, a lovely volley followed by a double making the game close, he gets it done to 30.

Zverev 2-3 De Minaur* I didn’t expect Zverev to get broken back like that, but Tiger Tim agrees with our early assessment: weight of shot is likely to prove definitive here. At 15-all, De Minaur finds himself caught at the net, doing well to block back two attempted passes … but the third, the hardest shot of the lot, is too good. No matter: an ace then a Zverev mishit secure the hold.

*Zverev 2-2 De Minaur Anyone else bothered by who De Minaur resembles? Well I’m here to tell you it’s Thom Yorke. Anyroad, two terrific volleys give De Minaur 0-30 but Zverev quickly levels, a lovely backhand slice doing the job … but he misses off the same flank to end another long rally, and here comes break-back point. A big serve quickly extinguishes it but another opportunity soon follows, and when Zverev’s approach doesn’t do enough, a glorious lob levels us back up.

Zverev 2-1 De Minaur* A cleverly-paced forehand into the corner, hit not too hard but hard enough, makes 0-15, then a 14-shot exchange ends with De Minaur going long for 15-30. And when he sits a ball up – or a ball holds up in the breeze – Zverev punishes him with a winner into the corner, before taking the first break point when Demon nets. That break looked like what we expected the match to look like, and though we’ll see how Zverev fares when serving into the wind, his extra power makes him more likely to push through.

*Zverev 1-1 De Minaur I should say, De Minaur’s new superfan mate Paul is in his box – oh man that’s wholesome – and he’ll be buzzing to see his man end a long rally with a delicious backhand drop for 0-30. But when he comes in to end the next rally, he nets – even at this early stage that could be a missed opportunity – less so when Zverev nets. He’s not got going yet and must now save two break points; the first disappears by way of serve out wide that De Minaur can’t return, the second by way of serve down the middle, same result. And from there, he quickly closes out.

Zverev 0-1 De Minaur* (*denotes server) Zverev nails one return on to the tootsies but it’s 40-0 by then, and his next effort is shanked wide. Good start for the Demon.

Righto, we’re good to go. De Minaur to serve, a semi-final against Casper Ruud the prize and … play.

Our players are with us and knocking up. Again, Chatrier is far from full, which makes a person question the wisdom of these nighttime sessions.

In the last two rounds, Zverev’s had to play five-setters, which may tell us that he’s not at his best, or may tell us that he’s in phenomenal shape and playing well enough to find a way past inferior players at their best. There was a time when Andy Murray would lose if, say, he bumped into Fernando Verdasco on a good day, and when that stopped happening, you knew he was ready to win a Slam. Perhaps that’s where Zverev now is.

Zverev is one of those players I thought might never win a Slam, because I thought by the time Djokovic and Nadal were ready to let him, Sinner and Alcaraz would be shutting him out. But he’s improved a lot since returning from injury and, utterly convinced by his own magnificence, he isn’t one of those doubting his ability to do it until he’s done it.

After beating Medvedev, De Minaur shouted, jokingly, that he’s a clay-court specialist and loves it in Paris. But actually, I wonder if this is the best surface for his game, given his speed allows him to catch up with almost everything, whereas on grass and hards, the bigger guys can blow him away.


It almost feels like any title won in his absence needs an asterisk, but it might also be that, finally, he’s on the way down having started losing matches he shouldn’t.

So how’s this one going to go? Well, on the face of things, that looks clear: Zverev will win because De Minaur – however much improved – has no weight of shot to stop him doing what he wants. But these are thoughts which I ‘d have disbursed earlier had I been on Sabalenka-Andreeva, so I’m feeling warier than I might’ve been; maybe the speed of Demon’s scurrying allows him to target Zverev’s forehand, and maybe he extends points to elicit errors, but really I’m reaching.

Merci Katy et bon soir mes amis. What a day it’s been – and look at tonight!

And that’s not it for today. We’ve still got Alexander Zverev v Alex de Minaur to come, from around 7.15pm BST/8.15pm Paris time. I’m signing off now, but do stay with us, because Daniel will be here shortly to take you through the last men’s quarter-final. Bye!

Andreeva is the youngest grand slam semi-finalist since Martina Hingis at the 1997 US Open. Which is kind of appropriate given she’s been compared to Hingis in terms of her style of play. The 17-year-old showed maturity beyond her years to see the match out against Sabalenka and not be distracted by her ailing opponent. We still don’t know what the issue was with Sabalenka, we’ll have to wait for her press conference to find out. Hugely disappointing for her – this defeat ends her run of six consecutive grand slam semi-finals and means she will lose her world No 2 ranking to Coco Gauff next week – and it leaves the winner of tomorrow’s Iga Swiatek v Gauff semi-final as the huge favourite for the title.

(1) Iga Swiatek v (3) Coco Gauff

(12) Jasmine Paolini v Mirra Andreeva

Andreeva is talking to Mats Wilander on court:

I tried to not focus on the score, on the second match point I was trying to imagine I was saving a break point. I didn’t expect the crowd to cheer for me today, so thank you. [Conchita Martinez, her coach] is giving me great support. Having her by my side is an amazing advantage for me.

I played Paolini in Madrid [Andreeva won]. It was really tough, she moves really fast, she goes for it. I will try to play the same level as today with the same cold head and we’ll see what will happen.

Deuce, when Sabalenka hits just beyond the baseline. A drop-shot error from Sabalanka and it’s advantage Andreeva! Match point! Sabalenka hits the ball as if her life depends on it and that’s got too power for Andreeva to get it back. Deuce. Advantage Andreeva, a second match point! And Andreeva leaves Sabalenka stranded with a perfectly weighted lob! Andreeva, the 17-year-old Russian, is into her first grand slam semi-final, where she’ll meet Jasmine Paolini, the earlier conqueror of Elena Rybakina! The script has been torn up here today!

Andreeva 6-7, 6-4, 5-4 Sabalenka*

Perfect start for Sabalenka with an ace down the T, followed by a deep forehand strike to Andreeva’s left. 30-0. She then targets the other side, but her footwork is a bit awry, and the ball skids wide. 30-15. Another unforced error and it’s 30-all. A crunch point this. Andreeva is two points from the biggest win of her life. And Sabalenka leaves absolutely no margin for error with a backhand down the line, and it pays off! 40-30…

Andreeva 6-7, 6-4, 5-4 Sabalenka*

Andreeva is rolling through this game. 15-0, 30-0, 40-0. A brief blip for 40-15 but no bother, the Russian takes the next point and the pressure is now very much on Sabalenka, who must hold serve to stay in this quarter-final…

Andreeva* 6-7, 6-4, 4-4 Sabalenka

Slightly distracted by watching that video, I miss most of Sabalenka’s service game. But she holds to 30, finishing with a flourish as she half volleys from the back of the court and pulls off the winner! Incroyable!


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