Alexander Zverev beat a top-10 player at a grand slam for the first time in his career as he defeated one of the pre-French Open favourites Carlos Alcaraz to reach the semi-finals.
Despite being seeded higher, Zverev seemingly came into the match as the underdog but ultimately produced a cool performance to win 6-4 6-4 4-6 7-6 (9-7) and awaits either Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal.
Alcaraz's sloppiness helped contribute to a fairly dominant first couple of sets for Zverev, but the gifted Spaniard fought back impressively to take the third and the tide appeared to be turning in the teenager's favour.
Zverev was no longer controlling rallies and increasingly found Alcaraz's blend of power and finesse tricky to cope with, but showed admirable grit to cling on and silence his opponent's vocal support.
2 - Only Boris Becker (three) has reached more ATP semi-finals at the #RolandGarros than Alexander #Zverev (two, level with Michael Stich) among German players, however Zverev is the first to reach back-to-back SFs in this tournament. Vanquisher. pic.twitter.com/qkzJlDLvDD— OptaAce (@OptaAce) May 31, 2022
The 25-year-old improved after a nervy start, capitalising on poor serving to claim the first break, with the near-flawless Zverev dropping just two more points on serve as he closed the first set in composed fashion.
The erratic Alcaraz was showing only flashes of his ability, while Zverev appeared unflappable as he saved a break point at 2-1 down in the second set before snatching a break of his own – the Spaniard regretting an attempt to serve and volley as he quickly found himself two sets down.
Going on the offensive was a necessity for Alcaraz in the third set and his spirit kept him alive when saving another break point with an immaculate drop shot – one of many – and an ace at 4-4.
He then finally broke Zverev for the first time, another brilliant drop shot doing the business, and he soon had the set.
By this point, Alcaraz appeared to be exerting greater control in the rallies playing up to the crowd more, but Zverev ended their fourth-set deadlock with a break that allowed him to serve for the match – not that he could capitalise.
Alcaraz hit back instantly and emphatically with a tie-break beckoning. His energy seemed to suggest the match was heading only one way, but Zverev held off a set point and finally put the match to bed with a reflex shot at the net.
Data slam: Zverev now only behind Becker
Zverev is into the French Open semi-finals for the second time, meaning Boris Becker is the only German to reach more (three). The latter never got so far in successive years, however.
Zverev – 39/34
Alcaraz – 46/56
Zverev – 7/6
Alcaraz – 2/3
BREAK POINTS WON
Zverev – 3/8
Alcaraz – 2/6