Carlos Alcaraz beats Jannik Sinner in five-set thriller to book place in French Open final

Carlos Alcaraz edged past Jannik Sinner in a five-set thriller to book his place in the French Open final for the first time in his career, prevailing 2-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3.

The youngsters showed why the future of tennis is in safe hands, pulling out a plethora of stunning shots in front of an enthralled crowd on Philippe Chatrier.

Alcaraz, 21, got off to a slow start in the match, losing eight of the first 10 games, but fought his way back into a contest that swung back and forth during the entirety of its grueling four hours and nine minutes of action.

The Spaniard, who is the youngest man to reach a grand slam final on all three surfaces, will now have the chance to win his third grand slam title in Sunday’s final, where he will face either Alex Zverev.

“Probably the toughest matches that I’ve played in my short career have been against Jannik,” Alcaraz said in his on-court interview after the match. “The US Open in 2022 and this one.

“Jannik is a great player, the team he has as well, the great work he puts in every day and I hope to play many, many more matches like this one against Jannik - but one of the toughest matches I’ve played for sure.”

Cheered on by a boisterous crowd that featured many Spanish flags and football shirts, Alcaraz then thanked the fans for their backing in his native tongue.

“To the Spaniards that are in here, to all the Spanish speakers, thank you so much for coming,” he said to huge cheers. “The truth is I feel privileged to play in front of you every game. Thank you from the heart and I’ll see you in the final.”

Carlos Alcaraz now has a chance to emulate his hero, Rafa Nadal. - Yves Herman/Reuters
Carlos Alcaraz now has a chance to emulate his hero, Rafa Nadal. - Yves Herman/Reuters

A French Open classic

Sinner, 22, who will be the new world No. 1 on Monday, got off to a blistering start, breaking Alcaraz in the opening game of the match.

Alcaraz had his serve broken again in his very next service game, as Sinner raced into an early 4-0 lead behind a booming serve and bludgeoning groundstrokes.

There was a brief reprieve for Alcaraz, who earned back one of the breaks of serve, but Sinner found another gear to break the Spaniard for a third time before comfortably closing out the opening set.

Alcaraz still had no answer to his opponent’s relentless power and accuracy and committed a number of unforced errors at the start of the second set as he attempted to find a way through a so far infallible Sinner.

Those errors gifted Sinner another break of serve and an early 2-0 lead. All of a sudden, however, Alcaraz began to show why he is tipped by many to be the future dominant force in tennis.

After initially struggling to keep pace, Alcaraz began to dominate proceedings as he finally found his range, placing his shots on the lines and in the corners with unerring accuracy.

That helped him rattle off five straight games to turn the set on its head and eventually take it 6-3 to level the match with a roar of “vamos!”

In a matter of minutes, the players’ demeanors had changed completely. Previously cutting a frustrated figure, exchanging words at times with his box, Alcaraz was now strutting around Chatrier with confidence.

The match was turning into a real slog for both players, who were pummelling the ball and pushing each other to the brink in every service game.

Sinner got off to a flying start in the match. - Tim Goode/Getty Images
Sinner got off to a flying start in the match. - Tim Goode/Getty Images

After an early exchange of breaks, Sinner started struggling with cramp in his hands and forearms while serving at 2-2, at one point his fingers contorted between points.

His serve appeared to be most affected by the cramp, but his crushing forehand remained as powerful as ever and he was able fight through the game and hold serve.

After being tended to by the physio, Sinner came out a man reborn and broke Alcaraz with a stunning backhand pass as the Spaniard became a little too eager to deploy the serve-and-volley tactic.

It proved to be the decisive break in the set as Sinner, now apparently unperturbed by the cramp, closed it out 6-3.

There was then nothing to separate the two men in the fourth set. Both players were displaying a mind-bending array of shots, but Alcaraz left mouths agape when he hit an absurd passing forehand at full stretch, almost ending up in the stands.

As brilliantly as Alcaraz was playing, however, he was unable to make a dent in Sinner’s serve as the Italian speedily rattled off game after game.

Despite struggling with his return of serve, Alcaraz found another level when it mattered most, breaking Sinner with the Italian serving at 4-5 in the set.

It was yet more spectacular shot-making that gave Alcaraz an early break of serve in the fifth set, stretching every sinew to flick a backhand past Sinner at the net to set up break point, which was converted with a crushing forehand winner.

From there, there was no way back for Sinner.

Alcaraz will have spent many of his formative years watching compatriot and idol Rafael Nadal winning final after final at Roland Garros. Now, he has the chance to emulate his hero.

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