Zverev reaches the second semifinal of the French Open with victory against Alcaraz | French Open 2022

Over the past 10 days, like the open french took shape more and more, all the attention in the men’s draw has been focused on a select few players.

Between the phenomenon of Carlos Alcaraz’s teenage breakthrough, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal’s attempts to delve into the tennis history book and even the opportunity presented to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the vacant bottom half, few have had much to say about it. Alexander Zverev.

But a player rises to number 3 in the rankings for a reason. On a cool Tuesday night at Roland Garros, Zverev showed why, remaining rock-solid against an erratic Alcaraz and shutting down the surrounding hype by winning 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(7).

Alcaraz opened the match immediately trying to impose his brand of high-octane tennis on all courts. But despite his intensity, his timing was completely off. Unforced errors flowed freely both forehand and backhand. Zverev was extremely solid. He soaked up Alcaraz’s inside-out forehand with his excellent backhand, which surprisingly didn’t concede a single unforced error over two and a half sets. He served well, he pressed when necessary and his historical weaknesses, his second serve and forehand, held.

Throughout the second set, Alcaraz produced many of his usual spectacular moments, but just couldn’t find his level. By the time he started the third set, he had committed four times as many groundstroke errors, a whopping 28 to just seven behind Zverev.

By the third set, Alcaraz was close to the brink and eventually faced break point at 4-4. Without hesitation, Alcaraz stopped it with a hard dropshot, held on, and then made his move. With exquisite return play, he extended the match after ending a long exchange with a brilliant forehand pass and then landing another delicate drop shot.

Not long after, Alcaraz and Zverev found themselves in an identical position in the fourth set, but when Zverev forced errors with the quality of his defense, Alcaraz collapsed, double faulting on break point. Never mind, when Zverev served for the match, he finally stumbled. Zverev made two nervous unforced errors and Alcaraz pounced, closing the game back with uncompromising aggression and a backhand crosscourt.

Alexander Zverev of Germany hugs Carlos Alcaraz of Spain after beating him in the men's singles quarterfinal at Roland Garros on May 30, 2022 in Paris, France.
Alexander Zverev (left) hugs Carlos Alcaraz after their four-set win in Paris. Photograph: TPN/Getty Images

As the pair converged on a tiebreaker, they went back and forth, exchanging winners all the way. But Zverev was ultimately much bolder than ever before in a big Grand Slam match. While Alcaraz saved the first match point, Zverev immediately generated a second and refused to waste it, nailing a backhand winner down the line to take the match.

With his victory, Zverev has unlocked a remarkable milestone. Despite being a top 10 player for almost five years, Zverev finally scored a top 10 win at a Grand Slam for the first time in his career.

By reaching his second consecutive semi-final at Roland Garros, he has also increased his chances of becoming world number one when Djokovic’s Wimbledon points drop next month. Zverev remains under investigation by the ATP after his ex-girlfriend Olya Sharypova publicly accused him of domestic violence, which he denies.

Alcaraz, meanwhile, has engineered an incredible finish, but his defeat must be viewed in perspective. Despite how easy he has made his tennis look and how he has trashed the tour, none of this is simple. Especially not in best-of-five-set matches, a format he is still learning.

The experience in these great moments, of which Zverev now has a huge amount despite not being able to take the final step, counts for a lot. Reaching the quarterfinals in his second French Open is an achievement in itself, and Alcaraz’s goal should be to learn from this experience and come back even more refined next time.

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