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The tennis world was reminded that the men’s game is in safe hands as Carlos Alcaraz defeated Jannik Sinner 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 in a four-hour epic to reach his first French Open final. An unexpected 4-0 lead in the opening set helped Sinner settle his nerves and the Italian came out firing with intensity and a willingness to take the initiative from the baseline. Fans were anxious that the blockbuster wouldn’t live up to expectations after the Italian won the first two games of the second set before Alcaraz found his rhythm accompanied by the drier court conditions to claim six of the next seven games. Entering the contest tied at four wins apiece in the head-to-head, there was nothing to separate them tennis-wise - and that was also the case physically when the third set produced a period of insanity when both players suffered through apparent cramps in different phases until Sinner swayed momentum and had all three answers for a two sets to one lead. A ridiculous passing shot by Alcaraz in the fourth set was the main highlight, wrestling back momentum by dictating points with the forehand - assisted by some uncharacteristic double faults (8) and low first serve percentage (56%) from the newly crowned world No.1. An early break in the decider was all that was required for Alcaraz who converted on the third match point attempt to become the youngest player in the Open era to reach the final on all three surfaces. After the match, the Spaniard revealed the secret behind winning the tough battles. “You have to find the joy in suffering. That is the key. You have to fight. You have to suffer,” said Alcaraz. “I was cramping. Jannik was as well. So we had to fight. I learned from last year against Djokovic … and I knew at this moment, you have to be calm and you have to keep going. You have to stay there and keep fighting.” The 21-year-old will face world No.4 Alexander Zverev after he too fought back from a set down to defeat Casper Ruud 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 to reach his second Grand Slam final. Ruud, a two-time finalist in Paris, was visibly struggling with a stomach problem in the third set and was unable to take advantage of the extra rest courtesy of Novak Djokovic’s withdrawal. An around-the-post shot from Zverev was the pick of the bunch in what has been a gruelling tournament - facing Nadal in the first round and surviving two five-setters. It comes two years after the German suffered a gruesome ankle injury at the same event - seeking to go one better at a major after failing to convert a two-set lead at the 2020 US Open final. Double’s Results: Jasmine Paolini’s tournament keeps getting better and better as a women’s doubles final appearance can now be added to her schedule after reaching the singles decider. The Italian, pairing up with compatriot Sara Errani, found a way from a set down as did Coco Gauff and Kateřina Siniaková in the other semi-final to book a date in the final on Sunday. Men’s No.1 seeds Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers were the opposite as they couldn’t make use of a one-set lead to succumb to a 6-3, 4-6, 5-7 defeat to Mate Pavić and Marcelo Arévalo. Awaiting in the final is Italian duo Simone Bolelli and Andrea Vavassori who knocked out Aussie Matt Ebden and India’s Rohan Bopanna in the semis. Women’s Final Preview: Will Iga Swiatek add a fourth Roland Garros title to her name at age 23? If so, Jasmine Paolini would not be a name that the Pole would’ve expected to face given the quality of Aryna Sabalenka and Elena Rybakina in the bottom half. The pair met once back at the 2022 US Open first round when the current world No.1 dispatched Paolini 6-3, 6-0. This will be one of the biggest Grand Slam upsets in history if the Italian can pull it off, but having former finalist Sara Errani in her corner could be a much-needed positive to have the experience to rely upon. Unless Paolini drastically changes her game style to throw off Swiatek, there are grave fears for the competitive nature of this final with similar comparisons drawn to Sabalenka’s routine win at the Australian Open final earlier this year against Qinwen Zheng. Paolini’s ferocious hitting power and ability to put opponents on the back foot is something that Swiatek won’t warm up to from the start, but it might not be all doom and gloom.


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