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Carlos Alcaraz not ready to win a Grand Slam as Alexander Zverev reaches French Open semis


Teen superstar Carlos Alcaraz showed he is not yet ready to win a Grand Slam in a four-set defeat to Alexander Zverev at the French Open. The Spanish world No 6 arrived at the French Open among the favourites after winning the titles in Barcelona and Madrid and he extended his winning run to 14 matches by reaching the quarter-finals.

But Olympic champion Zverev had been among the big names to insist before the tournament that five-set Major matches were different. And apart from a mini-fightback in the third set, the 19-year-old was unable to reproduce his recent ATP Tour form in his second Grand Slam quarter-final as went down 6-4 6-4 4-6 6-4 7-6 in three hours and 16 minutes.

Alcaraz quickly became frustrated going for big shots too early and he tried to play serve-and-volley on break points both times he was broken in the first two sets. The Spanish smile returned in the third set as he reeled off a string of winners and deployed 10 drop shots.

Zverev reached the semi-finals here for the second consecutive year and beat a top-ten player at a Slam for the first time at the 12th attempt. There was added pre-match spice with Zverev splitting acrimoniously with Alcaraz’s coach Juan Carlos Ferrero.

And the German also expressed his frustration at only playing on Court Philippe-Chatrier twice in his first four matches while the No 6 seed had been given the main stage for all his matches. Alcaraz was the youngest man in the French Open quarter-final since Novak Djokovic in 2006 and he was bidding to become the youngest semi-finalist since Rafa Nadal in 2005.

But for once, he looked his 19 years rather than the seasoned veteran of recent months. He was broken at 3-3 in the first set when he put his forehand volley into the net following a Zverev forehand return. And although the German served a double fault on his second set point, he took the third with an ace down the middle.

Alcaraz had eight winners and 16 unforced errors in the set and looked up to his box repeatedly in frustration. It was exactly the same unhealthy balance in his stats in the second as Zverev again broke in the seventh game when Alcaraz missed another volley.

In the third set, the world No 3 was five points away from victory with a break point at 4-4. But Alcaraz saved the virtual match point with his trademark forehand drop shot – and then took his first set point in the following game with another drop shot. In the fourth set, Zverev broke at 4-4 when Alcaraz sent down a double fault on the second break point.

But serving for the match at 5-4, Alcaraz went 0-40 up broke back with a backhand cross-court winner. In the tiebreak. The Spaniard used two drop shots interspersed with a lob to lead 5-4 and nailed a backhand winner down the line to set up a first set point.

Alcaraz wasted it by hitting a backhand into the net and then picked the wrong option with Zverev at the net to set up the first match point but the German pushed his backhand into the net. He set up the second match point with another huge serve down the middle and a drop volley. And this time Zverev crushed a 95mph backhand return winner down the line.



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