Alexander Zverev benefits from unwell Casper Ruud to book place in French Open final

Alexander Zverev benefits from unwell Casper Ruud to book place in French Open final
Alexander Zverev is through to the French Open final at the expense of Casper Ruud - Reuters/Yves Herman

Alexander Zverev wobbled early on but steadied himself to get past ailing seventh seed Casper Ruud 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 on Friday and reach the French Open final, where he will take on Carlos Alcaraz for an elusive maiden grand slam title.

The fourth seed, competing in his fourth straight Roland Garros semi-final, finally broke through to become the second German man to make the title clash in the Open Era and match Michael Stich’s feat from 1996.

He made a slow start as Ruud grabbed an early break and took the first set with some clean ball-striking in front of a sparse crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier, as fans were still recovering from a four-hour epic between Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner.

Having found his range in the second set, Zverev squandered the opportunity to grab a double break with a wayward volley but the 27-year-old pulled away to level the match and broke in the fifth game of the third set before extending his advantage.

The 25-year-old Ruud slowly looked like himself again after dealing with a stomach issue but his hopes of a third successive Paris final faded when Zverev struck in the Norwegian’s opening service game in the fourth set and ran away with the match.

More to follow...

09:52 PM BST

Finals weekend

Join me again on Saturday for coverage of the women’s final between Iga Swiatek and Jasmine Paolini.

Everything you need to know about that match is right here.

Carlos Alcaraz outlasts Jannik Sinner in five-set thriller to reach French Open final
Italy's Jasmine Paolini (left) takes on Iga Swiatek - Getty Image/Alain Jocard

09:42 PM BST

Zverev has had a strong clay season

09:35 PM BST

More from Zverev

I was two sets up and a break up. I was not ready to win my first grand slam final. I was too much of a kid still. I’m 27 now, I’m getting older. If not now, then when.

I’ve been on tour for 11 years. I’m still enjoying the game and trying to improve. I’m in my first Roland Garros final and hopefully I can win my first grand slam.

Alexander Zverev benefits from unwell Casper Ruud to book place in French Open final
Alexander Zverev celebrates after winning against Casper Ruud - Getty Images/Bertrand Guay

09:27 PM BST

Zverev reacts

I can’t describe the feelings. I’m extremely happy, I’ve got so much history on this court. I’ve got some of the best and worst memories on this court. I’m in the final after my fourth semi-final and I’m going to give it my all on Sunday.

If I waited, you saw how quickly the first set went away. Casper is too good a player to wait. I knew I had to be aggressive to take it.

09:18 PM BST

The winning moment for Zverev

09:07 PM BST

Ruud* 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 2-6 Zverev

Ace No 18 moves Zverev two points away from victory. A 53rd winner makes it 40-15. Two match points.

GAME SET MATCH ZVEREV. Ace No 19 from Zverev to complete a very good professional performance.

09:03 PM BST

Ruud 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 2-5 Zverev*

Stunning backhand return around the net post by Zverev, 30-30. He celebrates with a huge roar and earns a racket clap from Ruud.

Ruud goes long with a forehand down the line. Break point. This could be it...

And it is. Ruud is giving everything but he leaves the ball short and Zverev rifles a backhand winner down the line.

Zverev breaks and will serve for a place in the final.

08:58 PM BST

Ruud* 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 2-4 Zverev

Ruud is trying his best to be proactive and keep rallies short but Zverev is keeping his head well and an ace down the T means he is two holds away from the set.

08:54 PM BST

Ruud 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 2-3 Zverev*

Zverev wrong foots Ruud with an inside-out backhand winner, 15-30. Ruud responds with his fourth ace of the match. Zverev has hit 16!

Ruud continues to battle and holds to 30 when Zverev’s backhand on the stretch is just wide.

08:52 PM BST

Ruud* 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 1-3 Zverev

Ruud gives a second serve return everything he’s got, leaving himself out of position but Zverev miraculously hits a squash shot forehand into the open court for a winner. Tremendous play by both but it’s Zverev who holds serve again.

08:45 PM BST

Ruud 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 1-2 Zverev*

Zverev knows he just has to hold his serve to win this match now. Ruud has to go for it, keeping points short and he wins this game with a backhand winner down the line.

Only complacency and nerves can stop Zverev booking his place in Sunday’s final.

08:42 PM BST

Ruud* 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 0-2 Zverev

Another easy love hold for Zverev. Ruud disagrees with the umpire over a line call but it is futile. He is never going to win that argument.

08:41 PM BST

Fourth Set: Ruud 6-2, 2-6, 4-6, 0-1 Zverev*

Ruud left the court after the third set. Does it make a difference? Not really, unfortunately for the Norweigan.

The speed has gone out of his serving, the intensity is missing in his movement and Zverev knows it. A deep forehand into the corner and Ruud can only slice a defensive backhand into the net. Zverev breaks again.

08:30 PM BST

Ruud* 6-2, 2-6, 4-6 Zverev

Back-to-back ace from Zverev to start the game. A wayward backhand keeps Ruud in the game then a double fault makes it 30-30.

After making it look so easy on serve, this is the first test for Zverev in a long time. Wow. Zverev double faults again and a lifeline is gifted to Ruud. Break point.

Zverev takes the pace off his serve and adds top spin which proves too much for Ruud who nets. Normal service is resumed as Zverev hits his third ace of the game. Set point.

Big serve down the T is unreturned and Zverev takes the set.

08:25 PM BST

Ruud 6-2, 2-6, 4-5 Zverev*

He is not in a good place but credit to Ruud for at least making Zverev serve for the set.

08:21 PM BST

Ruud* 6-2, 2-6, 3-5 Zverev

At the changeover, Ruud is slumped forward and taking heavy breaths. He doesn’t look comfortable out there at all. And Zverev is taking full advantage. Holding to love. He’s won 32 of the last 36 points on his serve.

08:18 PM BST

Ruud 6-2, 2-6, 3-4 Zverev*

Better from Ruud as he goes on the attack and forces errors from Zverev. The shorter the point, the better for him. A volley winner keeps him in touch with Zverev.

08:15 PM BST

Ruud* 6-2, 2-6, 2-4 Zverev

Zverev continues to be irresistible on his own serve as he moves to 30-0. But Ruud finally gets a point on his serve when Zverev nets a sliced forehand.

Zverev forehand winner to consolidate the break. Ruud is not moving well at all. Needs those painkillers to start working ASAP.

08:10 PM BST

Ruud 6-2, 2-6, 2-3 Zverev*

Deep return by Zverev catches out Ruud, who flicks a backhand of his own long. Ruud gingerly walks back to his spot. He doesn’t look good.

Zverev then takes full advantage by drilling a backhand down the line to bring up three break point. Ruud saves the first break point. But not the second.

Zverev whips a forehand winner into the corner that Ruud barely moves for. Zverev breaks and must sense his opponent is struggling.

08:05 PM BST

Ruud* 6-2, 2-6, 2-2 Zverev

Ruud is good to continue after a visit from the tournament physio. His issue might explain why he’s struggled in the last hour. No such problems for Zverev, who holds to love again.

08:02 PM BST

Ruud 6-2, 2-6, 2-1 Zverev*

Zverev sets up the point really well, opening the court and leaving a big space for a forehand winner but the ball lands in the tramlines, 15-15.

Ruud undercooks a drop shot and nets, deuce. Ruud backhand into the tramlines now and Zverev gets a break point. Good point construction by Zverev but he goes long with a forehand, deuce.

Ruud then walks up to the umpire and says he has a stomach ache and requests the physio. Lovely inside out forehand by Ruud to survive that scare.

07:55 PM BST

Ruud* 6-2, 2-6, 1-1 Zverev

23rd winner from Zverev moves him to 30-0 then an unreturned serve makes it 40-0. Ruud is getting nowhere on the Zverev serve.

The German has lost just three points on serve since the start of the second set. An ace down the T completes another service game.

07:52 PM BST

Third Set: Ruud 6-2, 2-6, 1-0 Zverev*

Ruud came into the match having been on court for 12 hours and 20 minutes compared to 16 hours and 52 minutes by Zverev.

It means the Norweigan should not lack energy. He starts this set well with a hold to 15.

07:46 PM BST

Ruud* 6-2, 2-6 Zverev

206km/h ace down the T catches the line and gives Zverev two set points. Ruud return long and Zverev takes it.

It’s a best of three set match now.

07:43 PM BST

Ruud 6-2, 2-5 Zverev*

This match is yet to reach the levels of the first semi-final. It feels as though the crowd are waiting to be entertained but the players haven’t got out of first gear. The third set coming up, someone needs to stamp their authority on the match.

Ruud holds serve to 15 to make Zverev win the set on his own.

07:38 PM BST

Ruud* 6-2, 1-5 Zverev

More convincing serving from Zverev as he hits his third ace of the set to move 40-30 in front. A flat first serve into Ruud’s body is unreturned and Zverev is a game away from the set.

07:33 PM BST

Ruud 6-2, 1-4 Zverev*

Loss of focus from Ruud in this game and he’s gifted Zverev two break points. Ruud saves the first. But not the second as his backhand is too short and sits up nicely for Zverev to blast a backhand winner down the line.

Double break for Zverev secured.

07:31 PM BST

Ruud* 6-2, 1-3 Zverev

Zverev is starting to roll on his serve. When he gets his first serve in play, the point tends to be on his racket and it is making life tough for Ruud. Another love hold maintains his lead.

07:25 PM BST

Ruud 6-2, 1-2 Zverev*

Shocking high volley miss by Zverev on break point. Tim Henman is not happy with his technique there. Chance missed by the German and that lets Ruud off the hook, who holds serve with an expertly hit forehand volley winner.

07:17 PM BST

Ruud* 6-2, 0-2 Zverev

Positive body language from Zverev as he pumps himself up. He wins seven of the first nine points of this set and moves to 40-0.

And he consolidates the break when Ruud pushes a forehand return long.

07:14 PM BST

Second Set: Ruud 6-2, 0-1 Zverev*

Chance for Zverev to make an impression on Ruud’s serve as he moves to 0-30. Anxious look by Zverev to his dad in the stands after a frustrating backhand error. But Zverev gets two break points when Ruud’s forehand flies long, 15-40.

Ruud saves the first break point. But not the second as Zverev seizes the initiative with a forehand deep and into the corner. Ruud puts up a lob but the ball drifts well. Zverev breaks. Game on?

07:07 PM BST

Ruud* 6-2 Zverev

After 31 minutes, Zverev starts the game serving to stay in the set and he makes an auspicious start, slipping to 0-30. And Ruud earns himself two set points with a gorgeous sliced forehand drop shot.

Zverev backhand long and Ruud takes the first set. Zverev looks a little lost.

07:02 PM BST

Ruud 5-2 Zverev*

Ruud continues to keep Zverev off balance and unsure of what he’s going to do. Zverev is having to cover a lot of ground to track down Ruud’s shots even though the Norweigan is not the biggest ball striker on the men’s tour.

Another well angled forehand by Ruud and Zverev has no option but to go down the line with a forehand but the ball lands in the tramlines.

Ruud holds to 15.

06:58 PM BST

Ruud* 4-2 Zverev

Since being broken to love in his opening service game, Zverev has dropped one point on serve. A love hold here is sealed by a big forehand winner.

06:54 PM BST

Ruud 4-1 Zverev*

Ruud doesn’t possess the biggest of serves but he knows how to find his spots and he angles wide first serve that zips away for an ace, 30-15. Proactive ball striking by Zverev and he is rewarded when Ruud’s defensive slice flies wide, 30-30.

Longest rally of the match but Ruud stays solid and Zverev cracks first to concede the game.

Casper Ruud vs Alexander Zverev: French Open men's semi-final updates
Norway's Casper Ruud in action - Reuters/Yves Herman

06:50 PM BST

Ruud* 3-1 Zverev

Second double fault of the match by Zverev, 15-15. First ace of the match makes it 40-15. Ruud attempts an audacious forehand down the line but the ball is called out. He didn’t miss by much. But Zverev gets on the scoreboard.

06:45 PM BST

Ruud 3-0 Zverev*

Ruud is a lovely player to watch. He mixes his game up so well, happy to slice and guide the ball around the court.

But when he goes it, the ball flies and at 40-15 he hits a scorching forehand winner down the line.

Impressive start.

06:42 PM BST

Ruud* 2-0 Zverev

Zverev double fault puts him in a spot of bother at 0-30. He then pushes a backhand long and looks at his racket in bemusement. Three break points.

Zverev’s backhand clips the net cord and the ball sits up nicely for Ruud, who attacks it with his backhand. Zverev tries to pass Ruud at the net but his backhand sails wide.

Early break to Ruud.

06:37 PM BST

First Set: Casper Ruud 1-0 Alexander Zverev* (*denotes next server)

It’s been a long wait for both players after the first match but they have come out swinging freely and Zverev earns himself and early break point chance when Ruud pushes a backhand long.

Ruud is giving Zverev different looks with his shot and Zverev frames a forehand out, deuce.

The Norweigan comes through that early scare to hold serve.

06:30 PM BST

Here we go!

Around 30 minutes after the end of the first semi-final, Ruud and Zverev walk onto court for their battle.

This time last year, Ruud outclassed Zverev to reach the final. Will he do it again?

06:22 PM BST

Zverev settles assault case with ex-girlfriend with ‘no admission of guilt’

Earlier today, the German’s domestic violence trial had reached an early conclusion without ruling on whether the German tennis player assaulted his former girlfriend or not.

According to a court spokesperson, the model and social-media personality Brenda Patea reached an out-of-court settlement with Zverev’s legal team.

As part of the discontinuation of the case, Zverev paid a fine of €200,000 (£170,000), of which €150,000 went to the state treasury and €50,000 euros to a fund for charitable organisations.

The 27-year-old denied the claims and lodged an objection against the order, which resulted in a public trial.

06:15 PM BST

Zverev has arrived

06:08 PM BST

French Open betting offers and free bets

Having a bet on the tennis? First take a look at these French Open betting offers for the best free bets.

06:05 PM BST

Alcaraz reaches his first French Open final

Carlos Alcaraz has beaten Jannik Sinner in five epic sets to reach his first French Open final. World No 3 showed resilience to twice fight back from behind in a 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win.

His victory makes the 21-year-old from Spain the youngest man to reach a Grand Slam title match on three surfaces.

Alcaraz won the U.S. Open in 2022 on hard courts, Wimbledon in 2023 on grass and now will play for the championship on the red clay at Roland Garros.

The world No 3 will face Alexander Zverev or Casper Ruud in Sunday’s final. It is the first men’s title match at the French Open since 2004 without any of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer.

Carlos Alcaraz –
Carlos Alcaraz moved a step closer to a maiden French Open title - Getty Images/Clive Brunskill

05:45 PM BST

It’s show time!

Hello and welcome to coverage from the French Open of the second men’s semi-final between Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud. Zverev reached his fourth semi-final in Paris in four years after a straight-sets win over Alex De Minaur.

The German, who still chasing his first grand slam title, is 0-3 in semi-finals at Roland Garros. “I have the mindset you have to work harder than everyone else to be the best player,” he said. “I like to work to my absolute limit. If I do that then playing five sets all of a sudden is not that difficult.

“I’ve been doing that over many years and I’m happy to be in another semi-final. Hopefully I can win one. I want to be in the finals. That’s my main focus. I’m happy to be where I am. Casper is a great player. He’s made two finals in a row, third semi-final in a row, that speaks for itself. He’s one of the best players on this surface, for sure.

I think I have to play my best tennis to have a chance. But I can go five sets again. But I also do know that it’s better not to.”

Meanwhile, Ruud had a walkover into the last four when Novak Djokovic withdrew through injury. Ruud has been the beaten finalist in the last two years and he has come through this draw almost unnoticed. “I know if the opponents want to beat me, they’re going to have to play really good tennis for at least three full sets, and I’m going to try to make it tough for them,” Ruud said after the quarter-finals.

“It’s been working well the last two, three years here.   “With my technical game I’m going to try to play heavy and play the kind of clay court tennis that I like playing. “Physically I’m going to try to be in good shape and make them suffer if I can.”

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