Ahead of the quarterfinals at the French Open, the whole world is only talking about child prodigy Carlos Alcaraz. With a top performance, Olympic champion Alexander Zverev then achieved great success. Now the German is aiming for victory in Paris because soon it could be too late.
Alexander Zverev threw his fist in the air, yelled his luck again and again and was just overwhelmed. The Olympic champion stopped the meteoric rise of prodigy Carlos Alcaraz with a gala performance and put a big exclamation mark behind his title ambitions at the French Open. The third in the world rankings cracked the exceptional Spanish talent 6: 4, 6: 4, 4: 6, 7: 6 (9: 7) with a mental and playful top performance and, like last year, is in the semi-finals in Paris.
"I knew that I had to show my absolute best tennis from the start. I'm just happy that I managed to do that," said Zverev: "I hope I can win this tournament before he starts doing that very often. He's an incredible player."
Zverev, who converted his second match point after 3:18 hours, showed his best performance of the year in a thrilling quarter-final game at the highest level and also ended a tiresome series: For the first time in the twelfth attempt he beat a top ten player a Grand Slam tournament and after the success over Alcaraz, who had previously been undefeated 14 times in a row, can fight with confidence for his second final participation in a major.
In the round of the last four on Friday, the 25-year-old from Hamburg now faces the next major challenge on the big stage. Zverev meets Grand Slam record winner Rafael Nadal from Spain, who prevailed 6: 2, 4: 6, 6: 2, 7: 6 (7: 4) against world number one Novak Djokovic from Serbia, whom he fought in a duel faced the tennis giants for the 59th time late into the night.
"It certainly won't get any easier," said Zverev at Eurosport, but recognized potential for improvement: "It was far from perfect today, there are many things I can do better."
The top German player, not always confident during the tournament and with match point against himself in the second round, had clearly lost the previous meeting in early May in the final in Madrid against the 19-year-old climber of the season and was warned about the athlete from Murcia, who has already beaten the assembled elite this year and clinched four titles.
But this time Zverev was there immediately and put his young and obviously somewhat nervous opponent under pressure. After 43 minutes and with only seven minor errors, he closed the first round.
It was time for him to "win a Grand Slam," said Zverev, who was very close to it in the final of the US Open in 2020. Accordingly, he remained focused in the second set, Alcaraz now showed more of his spectacular game, cheered on by his numerous fans on the Philippe Chatrier court. But Zverev stayed with himself and increased.
Alcaraz took a short toilet break, but Zverev didn't bring it out. He continued to flex his muscles in his black, sleeveless shirt, but at the end of the third period he allowed himself a small phase of weakness, which Alcaraz immediately took advantage of. The arena was raging, but Zverev kept his nerve, fended off a set ball in the tie-break in set four and earned the prestige success.
And then Zverev did what he always does. "I go home, then they order the same food that we've been eating for two weeks and then the Uno cards are unpacked," he revealed - and added, not without pride: "I've just beaten the currently best player in the world ."