Alexander Zverev ended Carlos Alcaraz’s run at the French Open as the No. 3 seed reached the semi-finals for the second successive year with a hard-fought 6-4 6-4 4-6 7-6(7) victory.
Despite the higher seeding, Zverev was deemed the outsider with the bookmakers heading into the quarter-final clash against the 19-year-old No. 6 seed.
That was largely down to Alcaraz’s form in the build-up to Roland-Garros, which included dropping just four games when beating Zverev in the Madrid Open final earlier this month.
Alcaraz roars back to down Struff in five-set epic
However, on this occasion Zverev looked a cut above that previous encounter, with a superior serving display and Alcaraz’s high unforced errors count helping the German advance, as did a crucial 9-7 win in a thrilling fourth-set tie-break.
Zverev awaits the victor of Novak Djokovic’s quarter-final with Rafael Nadal, with the defending champion playing the 13-time winner tonight from 7.45pm BST.
"I was s***ing my pants," Zverev said on-court afterwards. "I knew I had to play my best tennis today from the start on. He kept coming back. He's an incredible player; I told him at the net that he will win this tournament a lot of times, not only once. I hope I can win it before he starts beating us all and we have no chance at all!"
Zverev had stoked the fire beforehand when claiming Alcaraz “gets what he wants” with the youngster having played three of his opening four matches on Chatrier.
By contrast, Zverev had played just once on the main court, but he cut a composed figure in the early stages, saving a break point in the second game of the first set before breaking himself three games later.
That was all the German needed to edge in front, with the 25-year-old closing out the first set 6-4.

'No right winning that point' - Alcaraz digs deep to win crazy rally against Zverev

With a view to reaching the semi-finals again, Zverev continued to thwart Alcaraz, who was becoming visibly frustrated with his own error count, which put paid to his chances of breaking in the fourth game of the second set.
In similar fashion to the opening set, Zverev then broke when converting his second opportunity in the seventh game before a third love service game of the set put him 5-3 in front.
Alcaraz battled to hold before an epic eight-minute 10th game handed Zverev a commanding two-set lead.

Watch Zverev seal second set with fierce ace against Alcaraz

Initially a wayward volley and forehand saw Zverev trail 0-30, but after recovering and then failing to convert two set points, Alcaraz squandered a break-back point before Zverev made it third time lucky.
Alcaraz clocked 16 unforced errors in each of the opening two sets, and was trailing in the service statistics as well, though crucially it was his inability to convert any of his three break points that saw him staring at defeat.
Zverev, meanwhile, was out to complete the job in three, and the third set motored along quickly without a deuce or break-point opportunity in the first eight games.

Stunning drop shot from Alcaraz takes Zverev by surprise

Then came Zverev’s chance to strike, but at 30-40 down Alcaraz rallied and fist pumped his way back to his seat having won the next three points, which included saving the break point with a drop shot.
With Zverev serving to stay in the set, Alcaraz sensed an opportunity, and a forehand pass brought up two set points and some, it must be said, Nadal-esque celebrations behind the baseline.
He only needed one chance, too, with another drop shot forcing the error from Zverev as Alcaraz roared his way back into the match with a timely first break, and set.

'He's got it!' - Alcaraz takes third set against Zverev in ferocious battle

The prelude to Djokovic-Nadal looked on course to run into that match’s scheduled 7.45pm start time, but the crowd inside Chatrier appeared eager for a decider before those with night session tickets replaced them.
Alcaraz, who had the majority of support, was hoping to make that the case, but though he was seemingly making in-roads on Zverev’s serve it was the German who broke first in the ninth game, gift-wrapped in the form of an Alcaraz double fault.
That saw Zverev serving for the match, but in a gutsy response Alcaraz broke to 15 to make it 5-5 and keep his hopes alive.

'Wow, that's the spark' - Alcaraz hits back against Zverev with blistering forehand

A breaker soon followed, and it ebbed both ways before Alcaraz failed to convert the first set point when serving at 6-5 and sending a forehand into the net.
Zverev then brought up match point on his own serve, but like Alcaraz he found the net as a fascinating tie-break went to 7-7.
Serving appeared to matter little in terms of an advantage in the breaker, but after recovering from that previous disappointment to edge ahead at 8-7, Zverev then sent down a stunning winner on Alcaraz’s serve to seal it 9-7.
“For me, when it’s shady and much slower it’s not perfect for me," Zverev said afterwads. "I didn’t get broken once when it was sunny, it was much faster. I had to adjust my strings as well.
"The match was [going] his way. I’m glad I didn’t have to play a five-setter; I didn’t have to be disappointed after the five-set match again like I was last year after the semis. I’m still in the tournament. Usually I’m a very good talker, but right now I can’t talk.”
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