Alcaraz downs Sinner to set up Paris final with Zverev

Carlos Alcaraz has battled into his first French Open final by beating Jannik Sinner 2-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3, making the 21-year-old from Spain the youngest man to reach a grand slam championship match on three surfaces.

He will face Alexander Zverev on Sunday after the German beat Casper Ruud 2-6 6-2 6-4 6-2 in the other semi-final on the same day a pending domestic violence court case in his native Germany was resolved.

Alcaraz won the US 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 against Zverev, who's still seeking his first grand slam crown.

Jannik Sinner received medical attention after a problem with his racquet hand. (AP PHOTO)

Alcaraz kept falling behind in Friday's absorbing affair but kept fighting to turn things around.

"You have to find the joy 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.

"It's one of the toughest matches that I've played, for sure. The toughest matches that I played in my short career have been against Jannik."

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

Alcaraz was also 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.

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 plenty of moments of brilliance.

Sinner's consolation will be to move up to the No.1 in the world rankings for the first time next week.

Zverev wins
Alexander Zverev acknowledging his victory over Casper Ruud. (AP PHOTO)

Fourth seed Zverev had lost in the Roland Garros semi-finals each of the past three years, including against No.7 Ruud in 2023, but he was too strong for the Norwegian after a slow start.

Hours before his semi-final began in Paris came news from Berlin that he reached an out-of-court settlement with an ex-girlfriend who accused him of assault during a 2020 argument.

A district court in Berlin ended the trial, with the agreement of state prosecutors and lawyers for Zverev and his former partner, Brenda Patea.

Lawyers for Zverev, who was not required to appear in court during the proceeding, issued a statement saying there was no finding of admission or guilt.

"I told you so from the start; I told everybody. I'm happy that it's over," the 27-year-old Zverev said at his post-match news conference. "Yeah, nothing else more to say."

When a reporter tried to follow up on the topic, Zverev said: "We move on. I never, ever want to hear another question about the subject again. That goes out to everybody."

Zverev leads the head-to-head series with Alcaraz 5-4, including a victory over the Spaniard in the 2022 French Open quarter-finals.

Ruud's level was high in the first set, and declined from there as if he too may have been suffering from illness.

He was visited by a doctor during a changeover in the third set. It was not clear what was wrong, and while Ruud was handed some pills, which he didn't appear to take, but when play resumed, he seemed more listless.