Carlos Alcaraz Reaches First Roland-Garros Final with Thrilling Win Over Sinner

Carlos Alcaraz reaches first Roland-Garros final

PARIS (AP) — Carlos Alcaraz, the 21-year-old Spanish tennis sensation, advanced to his first French Open final after an intense five-set battle against Jannik Sinner. Despite a slow start and trailing two sets to one under Friday’s scorching sun, Alcaraz triumphed with a 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory. The match, lasting 4 hours and 9 minutes, was a testament to Alcaraz’s resilience and determination, making him the youngest man to reach a Grand Slam title match on three surfaces.

“You have to find the joy (while) suffering. That’s the key — even more on clay, here at Roland Garros,” Alcaraz reflected on his win. “Long rallies. Four-hour matches. Five sets. You have to fight. You have to suffer. But as I told my team many, many times, you have to enjoy suffering.”

Alcaraz has previously won championships at the U.S. Open in 2022 on hard courts and at Wimbledon in 2023 on grass. Now, he is set to face Germany’s Alexander Zverev, who defeated Casper Ruud with a 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 win earlier that day. This will be Zverev’s second Grand Slam final after losing to Dominic Thiem at the U.S. Open in 2020.

This French Open final marks a significant departure from tradition, being the first without Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, or Roger Federer since 2004. Djokovic, the defending champion, withdrew before the quarterfinals due to a meniscus tear and subsequent surgery. His absence means Jannik Sinner, despite his defeat, will rise to No. 2 in the ATP rankings.

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The semifinal match was a display of both players’ physical and mental endurance. Alcaraz’s right hand cramped in the third set, while Sinner needed massages on his right forearm and left thigh. Despite these challenges, both players showcased moments of brilliance, eliciting enthusiastic chants from the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd.

In the decisive fifth set, Alcaraz gained momentum with a series of powerful shots, including a backhand passing winner and a forehand winner that secured a 2-0 lead. His coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, cheered him on with a loud “Vamos!” as Alcaraz moved closer to victory.

Sinner, who has battled a hip injury and missed the Rome tournament, acknowledged Alcaraz’s superior performance in crucial moments. “It was a great match. For sure, the sets he won, he played better in the important points,” Sinner said. “That was the key.”

Alcaraz’s victory is a significant milestone in his burgeoning career, signaling his potential to dominate men’s tennis. “It’s one of the toughest matches that I’ve played, for sure,” Alcaraz admitted. “The toughest matches that I played in my short career have been against Jannik.”

As Alcaraz heads into the final, he carries the hopes of a new generation of tennis fans, eager to see how he fares against Zverev on the iconic red clay of Roland Garros.

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