Roland Garros

New finalists in Paris! Zverev mentions Alcaraz at Roland Garros

The German will seek his first Grand Slam title on Sunday

June 07, 2024

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Alexander Zverev is No. 4 in the PIF ATP Rankings.
By Staff

It is so unlikely that a Roland Garros final will be between two debutants on that stage, that you have to go back to 2005 to find the last time two tennis players faced each other in the first final of their careers in this competition. The protagonists of that occasion were Rafael Nadal and Mariano Puerta. Almost 20 years later, Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev will equal the record.

After the Spaniard went 1-1 in the semifinals of the Parisian major, thanks to his victory over the Italian Jannik Sinner, Zverev became his rival on Sunday by beating the Norwegian Casper Ruud with sets of 2-6, 6 -2, 6-4, 6-2.

More than a triumph, Zverev’s was a relief. The No. 4 in the PIF ATP Rankings was playing in his fourth semifinals (all consecutive) at Roland Garros, but had fallen short in 2021 against Stefanos Tsitsipas), in 2022 against Nadal and in 2023 against his victim this Friday in just over hours and a half of play.

“I can’t describe the feeling I have right now. I am very happy to win after so much history on this track. I have had the best and worst memories on this court,” said Zverev, who was injured in the 2022 semifinals and had to retire. “Now I’m going to give myself a chance to win on Sunday.”

The 27-year-old right-hander has taken revenge against a player who sought to become the seventh player to reach three consecutive finals in Paris, and who had many reasons to be excited about achieving it. The seventh seed came into the duel being the leader in victories in 2024 (39), the leader in victories of the year on the surface (21) and the tennis player with the most matches won on this surface in the last five years (113).

These numbers seemed to explain his overwhelming start against Zverev this Friday. However, his great tennis and physical form – he had won in the quarterfinals by W/O due to Novak Djokovic’s injury – stopped being a threat to Zverev from the very beginning of the second set.

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The recent champion of Rome broke in the first game of the second set and, since then, he has only known how to grow and grow in level and confidence. After equalizing the score in sets at the hour mark, a break at 2-2 in the third set continued to sink Ruud’s hopes, who was also unable to take advantage of the break point when Zverev served for a set at 5-4. In addition, a stomach virus became increasingly uncontrollable for the Scandinavian.

And just in the opening game of the fourth, Zverev, a 22-time ATP Tour champion, broke again to move towards his twelfth consecutive victory, and the 51st of his career against Top 10 opponents. These numbers allow him to be the first for his country in the final of this event since Michael Stich in 1996. Now his record in the semifinals of this event is 1-4, and in majors it is 2-6.

On Sunday he will play his second final at this level, and first since he lost in 2020 to the Austrian Dominic Thiem. His history against his challenge makes him excited: the German leads his Lexus ATP HeadToHead with Alcaraz 5-4, and 1-0 in duels played in this tournament (he won in straight sets in the 2022 quarterfinals) .

“I was 2-0 in sets and with a break. And I was two points away from winning,” said Zverev when asked in his on-court interview what he would not want to repeat about his only previous experience in a final of this type. “But I’ve already said it: I wasn’t prepared to win my first Grand Slam title. I still had things as a child, and I didn’t know what that final meant, that’s why I lost it. Now I’m 27, I’m not a child anymore. And if I don’t win it now, then when?

Winning would leave him at No. 4 in the rankings after the tournament, but would make him the first German in the Open Era to win this event, and the first player from his country to win a Grand Slam since Boris Becker in Australia 1996.


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