PARIS — Alexander Zverev ended 19-year-old rising star Carlos Alcaraz’s 14-game winning streak by holding him off to win 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(7) on Tuesday night, reaching the Roland Garros semi-finals for the second consecutive year.
Many people predicted that Alcaraz would leave this French Open as champions. He might one day. Instead, it’s Zverev who still has a chance to claim his maiden Grand Slam title.
“I told him at the net, ‘You’re going to win this tournament many times, not just once,'” said third-seeded Zverev, a 2020 US Open runner-up and gold medalist at the Olympics in Tokyo last summer “Hopefully I can win before it starts…by beating us all.”
Zverev will now face 13-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4) winner of defending champion and world No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Tuesday night. quarter-final more anticipated and much more intriguing. This one was so important that it was made available for free across France via the streaming service which has exclusive access to this year’s night sessions at the clay major.
Alcaraz entered the quarterfinals with four league-leading titles and a 32-3 record this season, 20-1 on clay. That includes a victory over Zverev, 25, in the Madrid Open final on May 8 – which followed Alcaraz’s wins over Nadal and Djokovic there, making the teenager the first player to beat these two big ones at the same time. surface tournament.
At Roland Garros, sixth-seeded Alcaraz was trying to become the youngest semi-finalist since Nadal aged 19 in 2005.
Zverev, however, managed to fix a notable blemish on his resume: the German started the afternoon with an 0-11 record in Grand Slam matches against opponents in the top 10 of the ATP rankings.
“At the end of the day,” Zverev said, “I knew I had to play my best tennis today right from the start.”
He got the start he wanted, of course, taking a two-set lead using every bit of his 6-foot-6 frame to get into position for his free-swinging groundstrokes and spiking the ball.
Alcaraz, on the other hand, was not at his best, racking up 32 unforced errors in the first two sets alone, 17 more than Zverev in that span. Alcaraz finished with 56, Zverev with 34.
The spectators at Court Philippe Chatrier seemed to have their favorite from the start, regaling Alcaraz by chanting his first name and responding with approval to his punches and cries of “Vamos!” cleaning up his punches and using his usual range of drop shots to great effect.
After losing the third set, Zverev served for the match at 5-4 in the fourth but was broken when Alcaraz ripped a backhand winner that left him screaming and pumping his fist – and pissed off the crowd.
Then, in the ensuing tiebreaker, Alcaraz held a set point at 6-5.
“The match,” Zverev said, “was turning its way.”
Except Alcaraz kicked a backhand into the net, and soon Zverev had his first match point at 7-6, which he gave up with his own backhand in the net.
A soft drop volley earned a second chance to close it, and this time Zverev did it with a backhand winner.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.