Carlos Alcaraz Outlasts Jannik Sinner to Reach First-Ever French Open Final

Carlos Alcaraz has advanced to his first-ever French Open final.

Despite starting poorly and falling behind by two sets to one in his French Open semifinal against Jannik Sinner, the 21-year-old Spanish tennis player ultimately persevered.

Carlos AlcarazAlcaraz pulled out a 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Sinner to get to his first final in Paris, making him the youngest man to reach a Grand Slam title match on three surfaces.

By the end of the latest installment in this burgeoning rivalry between two young, talented players, an engaging five-setter that lasted 4 hours, 9 minutes, Alcaraz actually had accumulated fewer total points, 147-145.

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

He won championships at the US Open in 2022 on hard courts and at Wimbledon in 2023 on grass.

Now the No. 3-seeded Alcaraz will face No. 4 Alexander Zverev of Germany on the red clay Sunday.

This will be the first French Open men’s final without Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer since 2004.

Djokovic was the defending champion in Paris, but withdrew before the quarterfinals after tearing the meniscus in his right knee. B

In the fifth set, with shadows covering more than half the court, Alcaraz moved out front by sliding until he could reach across his body to snap a backhand passing winner for a break point. A forehand winner — one of his 30 in the match — made it 2-0 at the 3½-hour mark, earning a yell of “Vamos!” from his coach, 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Soon, it was 3-0, and Alcaraz was on his way.

“It was a great match. For sure, the sets he won, he played better in the important points,” Sinner said. “That was the key.”

Both players walloped the ball with such force that the ball-off-strings thuds elicited gasps from spectators in the middle of points.

Sinner, his rust-colored shirt a few shades darker than the clay, came out ready at the start of the match, barely ever missing, gliding more than grinding along the baseline and stretching his long limbs to get to nearly everything Alcaraz offered.

Alcaraz, his right arm covered by a white sleeve, would deliver a powerful shot to a corner, punctuated with a grunt, and Sinner would somehow get to it, flip it back and draw a mistake.

Sinner led 4-0, and it took Alcaraz 20 minutes of striving to simply place a “1” beside his name on the scoreboard. The second set began inauspiciously for Alcaraz, who fell behind 2-0.

“I told myself,” Alcaraz said, “that it’s going to be a long match.”

He did not go quietly. Getting more aggressive and doing what he could to shorten points, Alcaraz turned things around right when he needed to, using a five-game run to take control of that set.

After Sinner took the third, Alcaraz pushed the proceedings to a fifth. He closed the fourth with a cross-court backhand winner, then raised his right fist and shook it.

Here’s how Alcaraz came through: He came up with a 32-23 edge in winners over the last two sets.

With his strokes, somehow, gaining zest, and the fans, somehow, getting louder, Alcaraz advanced at a tournament he grew up watching on TV at home in Spain as his countryman Nadal piled up a record 14 titles.

Not that it was easy.

“It’s one of the toughest matches that I’ve played, for sure,” Alcaraz said. “The toughest matches that I played in my short career have been against Jannik.”

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