Alexander Zverev wiped his eyes in disappointment and quickly packed his bag. The Olympic tennis champion unexpectedly missed the great opportunity from the final at the French Open and has to wait for his first title in a Grand Slam tournament.
The 26-year-old clearly lost to the Norwegian Casper Ruud in the semi-finals 3: 6, 4: 6, 0: 6 and received a heavy smack at the end. After the serious ankle injury last year, Zverev also lost his third semi-final in a row at the classic clay court in Paris. In the duel with the fourth in the world rankings, the 26-year-old was unable to match his previous performances in 2:09 hours and missed numerous opportunities. Zverev would have been the first German finalist at the French Open since Michael Stich in 1996.
Ruud in the final against Djokovic
The 24-year-old Ruud now meets the Serbian Novak Djokovic in the final, who defeated Carlos Alcaraz from Spain after great drama 6: 3, 5: 7, 6: 1, 6: 1 and only one victory from the sole Grand Slam record is removed. Alcaraz was plagued by cramps all over his body in the third set and could hardly move after that. “I’m very sorry for him,” Djokovic said sympathetically. “He’s going to win this tournament many, many times.”
With his 23rd Grand Slam title, the 36-year-old would leave behind his Spanish long-term rival Rafael Nadal, who is missing in Paris this year. Zverev, on the other hand, continues to chase his premiere triumph in one of the four big tournaments in vain. Key to defeat: Against Ruud, the Hamburg player was only able to convert one of his nine break chances.
Zverev’s record against top players remains weak
In Paris, the former world No. But something is still missing – Zverev’s record against the strongest opponents on the big stage is still weak.
In 13 duels with players from the top ten in the world rankings, there was only one win: in the quarter-finals of the French Open 2022 against Alcaraz. Ruud lost to the Spanish youngster in the final of the US Open – the Norwegian is now about his first major title.
Bad start to the game
Zverev’s start failed completely: he immediately gave up his first two service games and tried in vain to find the rhythm. Although he also managed a break in the meantime, he initially lost his chances due to too many minor mistakes. “It was a slow start from Sascha,” said brother Mischa as a Eurosport expert.
It was quickly 2:5. Zverev slowly gained some security, and also created a break chance to shorten. Due to a devious forehand, however, the first round was gone after 47 minutes.
Zverev without rhythm, Ruud stable
Already in the third round against the American Frances Tiafoe, Zverev had to run after a set deficit. But this time there was no turning point. At 2: 1 in the second round, Zverev lost three break chances in a row, instead he gave up his own serve to make it 3: 4. Zverev scolded his followers in the stands in Russian. Ruud, on the other hand, continued to play his game without much emotion, with a forehand down the line the 24-year-old also won the second round. Despondently, Zverev trotted into the catacombs for a toilet break.
In contrast to the electrifying atmosphere in the first two sets of Djokovic’s generational duel with Alcaraz, the ranks of the Court Philippe-Chatrier were only around two-thirds full. And there was no longer a great mood for a comeback. Zverev lost the first two service games again – the match was over a little later.