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Alcaraz downs Sinner, to face Zverev or Ruud in French Open final

Revenge? Casper Ruud crushed Alexander Zverev in last year's semi-finals (Dimitar DILKOFF)
Revenge? Casper Ruud crushed Alexander Zverev in last year's semi-finals (Dimitar DILKOFF)

Carlos Alcaraz outlasted Jannik Sinner in an engrossing five-set battle on Friday to reach his first French Open final, where he will face either Alexander Zverev or Casper Ruud.

The two-time Grand Slam champion trailed 2-1 in sets to incoming world number one Sinner, but rallied in the Paris sunshine to win 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 after four hours and nine minutes on Court Philippe Chatrier.

It was another gripping chapter in the pair's burgeoning rivalry, with Alcaraz now leading their head-to-head 5-4.

"I hope to play many, many more matches like this one against Jannik but it's one of the toughest I've played for sure," said Alcaraz.

"I'm really happy about everything I did today. I waited for my moment until I took it."

The 21-year-old will be the favourite heading into Sunday's final as he aims to become the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on clay, grass and hard courts.

He has won both of his two previous major finals -- at Wimbledon last year and the 2022 US Open.

Italian Sinner, playing in his first Roland Garros semi-final, put up a brave fight but came up just short as he suffered only his third defeat of the season and his first at a Slam this year after winning the Australian Open.

Alcaraz was not at his best for long periods, but found his form at the right time late in the fourth set, powering to victory on the back of 65 winners.

Sinner flew out of the blocks, breaking in the first game of the match en route to a 4-0 lead.

Alcaraz started to find his rhythm, but too late to recover in the opener as Sinner took it on his third set point.

World number three Alcaraz looked in trouble when he quickly fell 2-0 behind in the second set, but Sinner's level markedly dropped as the Spaniard reeled off five straight games before levelling the match.

Sinner was starting to struggle with his serve -- making eight double-faults across the second and third sets -- and Alcaraz struck first with an early break in the third.

But Sinner upped his game again, breaking Alcaraz twice, either side of a crucial hold in which he saved four break points himself, before moving a set in front.

After 10 breaks across the first three sets, both players stabilised on serve in the fourth, with nine successive comfortable holds.

But Alcaraz found some magic when he needed it most as, leading the set 5-4 but 30-0 down on Sinner's serve, he produced a series of sparkling shots and forced a decider with a backhand winner on the stretch.

The momentum was all with Alcaraz and a wonderful lob helped him bring up break point in the second game of the fifth.

The duelling duo were bringing the best out of each other, but although Sinner produced a perfect drop shot to save that break point, Alcaraz powered away a forehand shortly afterwards to secure a 2-0 advantage.

Sinner steadied the ship to keep the pressure on his opponent, but Alcaraz successfully served out for a place in the final in a tense ninth game, clinching victory on his third match point as Sinner blazed long.

- Ruud or Zverev await -

Ruud and Zverev will later meet for the first time since the Norwegian romped to a crushing victory in last year's semi-finals for the loss of just seven games.

In stark contrast to Zverev, who played back-to-back five-set marathons in the third and fourth rounds before defeating Alex de Minaur in the quarter-finals, Ruud has not played since Monday.

He was due to face reigning champion Novak Djokovic in a repeat of last year's final but the world number one was forced to withdraw with a knee injury, handing the seventh seed a walkover into the semis.

Zverev will be playing in his fourth successive Roland Garros semi-final, but is yet to reach the final and still has not won a Grand Slam title.

"Of course I want to win one. I want to be in the finals. That's my main focus," the fourth seed said after seeing off De Minaur.

A German court dropped a case against the 27-year-old Zverev over allegations he assaulted an ex-girlfriend earlier on Friday, after a settlement was agreed.

Ruud is also still searching for a first major trophy, having lost all three of his Slam finals, including in each of the past two years in Paris -- against Rafael Nadal in 2022 and Djokovic 12 months ago.

On Saturday, Iga Swiatek will continue her bid for a third straight women's title against surprise challenger Jasmine Paolini.

World number one Swiatek has a remarkable 34-2 winning record at Roland Garros, drawing comparisons with Nadal.

"We'll see in 14 years if the journey is similar. That's obviously really nice for me," said Swiatek.

On Friday, Paolini also reached the women's doubles final alongside fellow Italian Sara Errani.

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