A flawless Casper Ruud returned to the French Open final for a second year running by dismantling German 22nd seed Alexander Zverev 6-3 6-4 6-0 in a battle of big-hitters on Friday to set up a showdown with 22-times Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic.
Ruud is through to his third Grand Slam final in his past five tournaments. He was runner-up to Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros in 2022 and then lost to Carlos Alcaraz in the US Open final.
The 24-year-old Ruud broke Zverev six times as the Olympic champion’s French Open run ended in the semi-finals for the third time in a row.
“I just went out there and tried to play without thinking too much, trying to play without pressure, and just played really well today,” said Ruud, whose 87 wins on clay are the most since 2020.
Ruud has had a challenging year and arrived in Paris with an underwhelming 16-11 record.
The fourth-ranked Ruud has never won a set against Djokovic in four meetings, although this will be their first match-up at a major.
“I didn’t come into Roland Garros thinking I was the favourite to reach the final. It’s been two very fun weeks in Paris and hopefully third time can be a charm for me,” he said.
Djokovic beats cramping Alcaraz
Earlier on Friday Djokovic triumphed 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 to become the oldest man in 93 years to reach the championship match where he will be bidding for a third Roland Garros title and record-setting 23rd men’s Grand Slam crown.
The drama on Friday unfolded just as Djokovic had levelled the third set at 1-1 with the first two sets split but with Alcaraz seemingly in the ascendancy in the sweltering 33-degree Paris heat.
Alcaraz, 16 years Djokovic’s junior, pulled up clutching his right calf.
He conceded his next service game because he sought treatment courtside before a scheduled change of ends and could not receive a medical timeout for cramping.
As boos and jeers rained down, Djokovic, playing in his 45th Grand Slam semi-final, swept the next five games to open a two sets to one lead.
Alcaraz left the court for a five-minute bathroom break but his physical limitations easily opened the door for Djokovic to coast into his 34th Grand Slam final, having wrapped up 10 of the last 11 games of the semi-final.
“Tough luck for Carlos, the last thing you want is cramping. I feel for him and hope he recovers and comes back very soon,” said Djokovic.
“Respect for him in fighting until the end. I told him at the net that he is very young and he will win this many times.”
He added: “He was the better player in the second set. I knew I had to be more aggressive and then match and better his intensity.”
In just their second career meeting, and first at a Grand Slam, Djokovic made light of the age gap by breaking for a 3-1 lead, drawing Alcaraz out of position before topping off a rally with a cool backhand.
Alcaraz let slip three break points in the seventh game as his flamboyant all-court game collided head-on with Djokovic’s storied defensive wall.
In a see-saw conclusion to the first set, Alcaraz saved a set point in the eighth game, Djokovic thwarted another break point in the ninth before he pocketed the opener when the Spaniard pushed a service return wide.
Djokovic required a medical timeout on his right wrist at 3-4 down in the second set and Alcaraz pounced, finally converting a break point at the sixth attempt for a 5-3 lead.
Djokovic hit back immediately as the 20-year-old Spaniard chose the wrong time to serve up his worst game of the match and a driving backhand down the line retrieved the break.
Two-time champion Djokovic saved three set points in the 10th game but undid the hard work in the 12th game as a wild forehand sailed long and Alcaraz levelled up the semi-final.
From that point, Alcaraz’s afternoon unravelled.
Kaynak : https://www.france24.com/en/sport/20230609-djokovic-beats-cramping-alcaraz-to-reach-french-open-final