Carlos Alcaraz reaches first French Open final with five-set win over Jannik Sinner

It will be the first men’s title match at the French Open since 2004 without any of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer.
Spain's Carlos Alcaraz reacts during his semifinal match of the French Open against Italy's Jannik Sinner at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris (Photo | AP)
Spain's Carlos Alcaraz reacts during his semifinal match of the French Open against Italy's Jannik Sinner at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris (Photo | AP)

PARIS: Carlos Alcaraz reached his first French Open final by beating Jannik Sinner 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Friday, making the 21-year-old from Spain the youngest man to reach a Grand Slam title match on three surfaces.

Alcaraz won the U.S. Open in 2022 on hard courts, Wimbledon in 2023 on grass and now will play for the championship on the red clay at Roland Garros.

The No. 3-seeded Alcaraz will face Alexander Zverev or Casper Ruud in Sunday’s final. It is the first men’s title match at the French Open since 2004 without any of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer.

Djokovic was the defending champion in Paris, but withdrew before the quarterfinals after tearing the meniscus in his right knee and had surgery this week. Because he failed to get back to the final, he will drop from atop the ATP rankings, allowing Sinner to rise a spot from No. 2, despite his defeat on Friday.

Sinner entered the semifinals with a 13-0 record in Grand Slam play in 2024 after winning the Australian Open in January. But the 22-year-old Italian also showed up in Paris with a lingering hip injury that forced him to sit out the clay-court tournament in Rome last month.

No. 4 Zverev of Germany and No. 7 Ruud of Norway were scheduled to meet in the second semifinal Friday.

Zverev’s domestic abuse case in Berlin ended earlier in the day, when he reached an out-of-court settlement with his accuser, a former girlfriend. Both he and Ruud are trying to win a first Grand Slam title. Zverev was the runner-up at the 2020 U.S. Open and lost in the French Open semifinals each of the past three years. Ruud is a third-time finalist at majors, including losing in Paris to Nadal in 2022 and to Djokovic in 2023.

Against Sinner, Alcaraz kept falling behind and kept turning things around. Before dealing with some physical issues that required multiple visits from a trainer, Sinner led by a break and a set at 2-0 in the second. Alcaraz then took five games in a row and evened things.

Alcaraz also was troubled in the third set, flexing his right hand as it began to cramp, and Sinner went up two sets to one. But Alcaraz never wavered, often using drop shots – sometimes to win points outright, sometimes to set up curling lobs, sometimes to pave the way for slick passing shots.

In the fifth set, 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.

Both he and Sinner are seen as the future of men’s tennis. The present isn’t too shabby, either. Even though this was not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing of their nine head-to-head meetings — Sinner now leads 5-4 — and they combined for 102 unforced errors, there were moments of brilliance that generated dueling clap-accompanied chants of each man’s first name from the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd.

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