Alexander Zverev had to pass his service game for the last time. again only. Then he will be in the semi-finals of the French Open. He’s played excellent up to that point, leading 6:4, 6:4, 4:6 and 5:4. He just got the break. Serve to win the match. But only at that moment he played very passively, and his opponent was not. 5:5. It’s been a tricky phase now, because when a game that seems to have been nearly won fades away, doubts can spread.
But not in Zverev, not on Tuesday at the French Open.
The 25-year-old German professional tennis player, who is ranked third in the world rankings, has continued to play with such great focus, few mistakes, yet also offensively, until this point. Not always Zverev performed very calmly, very calmly, very in control of his career, but he did in the quarter-finals of Roland Garros. The fourth set was decided in the tiebreak and was close to the end. The opponent even had a set ball. But Zverev was victorious in this excellent duel, and the point of the second match was there: after the success of 6:4, 6:4, 4:6, 7:6 (7), he reached the last four for the second time in a row.
Not too bad considering he earned a match point against him in the second round against Argentine Sebastian Baez. And that this Carlos Alcaraz was his opponent on Tuesday. The 19-year-old from El Palmar near Murcia has been called the Wonder Boy, which is certainly true given his rapid rise this season.
Before the duel with Alcaraz, Zverev complained that he had to play a lot in the second largest arena
In the match, Alcaraz received a playoff in Zverev’s first service match. He missed a 2-0 lead, so Zverev was the first to get the advantage. He captured Alcaraz’s serve to make it 3-2. At this level, that could already mean a missing group. Indeed, Zverev was more stable than he was in the round of 16 against Spaniard Bernabé Zapata Miralles, when he committed 64 unforced errors and was unnecessarily close to the world number 131. made.
Zverev’s former manager, Patricio Abe, with whom he broke up in an argument, once described him well when he said that Zverev grew up on big pitches, and that these stages were his natural refuge. Before dueling with Alcaraz, Zverev complained a bit that he had to play a lot on the second largest arena, Susan Lenglin Court, three times en route to the quarter-finals. Tuesday’s match against Alcaraz was held at the Philippe Chatrier Stadium in front of 15,000 spectators, and it was really amazing how Zverev immediately raised his level in this place.
He made only seven minor fouls in the first set, which he won 6:4, seemingly without emotion like a writer. There were only eight fouls in the second set, and most importantly: he also had structure in the game, which he didn’t really shine against against Zapata Miralles, for example. On the other hand, Alcaraz was somewhat out of the situation, and for the first time after two night games, he was now behaving on the center court at a more comfortable temperature. He made mistakes that he rarely made before. Above all: show passive gestures, quarrel, just tap briefly the bat on the ground out of disappointment. Zverev, as they say in tennis, crawled into his head, he clearly lost his mastery. In the second set Zverev managed to break the break to 5:3. It was enough to play hard. Also in this round he was carrying his dispatch, 6:4.
The longer the match, the better the quality
There was only one way out for Alcaraz: he had to win three straight sets. To do this, he had to get better and hope that Zverev would falter. But he did not do him any favors, on the contrary. Alcaraz remained the more fragile representative of the two. Zverev had a break ball in 4:4, that was the chance. He forgave, and suddenly the preacher responded with more courage, flogged himself with gestures and got three 6:4.
The match remained tense, and the significance was noticeable to both. However, the quality increased dramatically, because both of them were very focused now. Some of the rallies were amazing. Then came the fourth group. And Zverev hit the best backhand of his life on match point two: his comeback hit the line like lightning. “I knew I had to play my best tennis,” he said in a short on-court interview with ex-professional Alex Corretga. “I’m actually a good speaker, but now I’m speechless,” Zverev said.
Fortunately, when he appeared after a good hour at the press conference, which was always held in the vault of Philippe Chatrier’s court, he regained his ability to express. This was also practical, because one of the things that should be made clear is how he, who likes to be impulsive, managed to keep his cool the whole time in the match. The quality of his game was clearly good. Zverev explained, “I knew it was going to be a very long physical match, and I wasn’t allowed to show too much emotion because it also makes you tired. And that sucks the energy out of you. That’s why I had to stay calm.” Certainly his new coach, the cunning Spaniard Serge Bruguera, who has won twice in Paris, encouraged him to take this approach. Perhaps he should be more silent.
For the first time, Zverev defeated the representative of the top ten in a Grand Slam tournament, which he had not managed to do before, a curious fact despite his many successes. “I’m glad I was able to do this,” he said about it, “but it doesn’t bother me too much now.” In the semi-finals, he meets the winner of Rafael Nadal’s match against Novak Djokovic, which not only seems like a final task, but it is. “I haven’t beaten it in a major tournament, I hope I can get the performance back from the win back on the court today,” Zverev said. If he had actually won his first Grand Slam title next Sunday, he would have taken a really tough road from the quarter-finals.