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Zverev seeks grand slam glory at last in Paris final against Alcaraz

German tennis player Alexander Zverev plays a forehand return to Norway's Casper Ruud during their Men's Singles Semi Final tennis match on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Day 13 of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex. Matthieu Mirville/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa

Alexander Zverev hopes to have matured enough over the past years to finally land a maiden grand slam title at age 27 on Sunday when he faces Carlos Alcaraz in the French Open final.

Alcaraz, for his part, can at 21 become the youngest man to win majors on three different surfaces if he adds the Roland Garros crown on clay to those on hard court from the 2022 US Open and grass from last year's Wimbledon.

World number four Zverev leads their head-to-head 5-4, including a 2022 quarter-final success at the Frech Open and success at the same stage at this year's Australian Open. Third ranked Alcaraz won their last meeting in Indian Wells in spring, and their only previous final, 2022 in Madrid.

A tight battle is expected after Alcaraz prevailed in five sets over new world number one Jannik Sinner and Zverev dispatched Casper Ruud in the semi-finals.

"If you are in the final of Roland Garros you deserve to be there. And that goes for him [Alcaraz] as well. He played a fantastic match today, a fantastic tournament in general," Zverev said on Friday.

Zverev feels ready for grand slam glory

Olympic champion Zverev will be playing his second grand slam final, having lost the 2020 US Open decider against Dominic Thiem after leading by two sets.

"I wasn't a kid any more but I still was a baby in a way," he said, looking back and hoping "to show on Sunday" that he has come a long way since then.

He enters the final riding a 12 match winning streak which includes the Rome Masters title, a first-round win over record 14-time French Open winner Rafael Nadal and a first semi-final win in the fourth straight attempt at Roland Garros.

The 2022 drama

The previous semis included the 2022 drama when he suffered a season-ending ankle injury late in the second set of a thriller against Nadal.

"I have so much history on this court. Some of the best memories and some of the worst memories happened on this court and I’m so happy to be in the final – I’m going to give it my all on Sunday,” he said.

Zverev is the first German since Michael Stich in 1996 to reach the Paris final, with the last German title even dating back 87 years to Henkel's success success in 1937.

Alcaraz the next Spanish winner?

Spain have a much better record, and Alcaraz wants to add his name to a winners' list that apart from Nadal and his coach Juan Carlos Ferreiro includes the likes of Sergi Bruguera, Albert Costa, Carlos Moya and Manuel Santana.

"I have a special feeling [with] this tournament, because I remember when I finished school I [would be] running to my home just to put the TV on and watch the matches here in the French Open. Of course Rafa Nadal dominating this tournament. It's something unbelievable," he said.

“I wanted to put my name on that list of the Spanish players who won this tournament. Not only Rafa ... a lot of Spanish players, legends from our sport that won this tournament, I really want to put my name on that list, as well.”

Looking at the age record, which he has already set with three finals on three different surfaces, he said: “It’s something great. Breaking new records for me is great, great success for me.

“Honestly, before the final it’s something that I really don't want to think about it, but obviously that means that I'm playing good tennis on every surface.

"So it’s a great feeling, but right now, I don’t want to think about it.”

Different paths into final

Alcaraz has seemingly fully recovered from a forearm problem that saw him miss the Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome events as he has dropped just three sets en route to the final, while Zverev's path included two gruelling five-set encounters.

"I am happy with the path I have had," Zverev said. "To go deep and to win a grand slam you have to go through difficulties. You have to go through battles. You have to come back from difficult moments."

That also applies off court as Zverev said he was happy that a domestic abuse court case in connection with allegations from an ex-girlfriend ended in a settlement announced on Friday.

"We move on. I never ever want to hear another question about the subject again. That goes out to everybody," Zverev said.

German tennis player Alexander Zverev reacts during his Men's Singles Semi Final tennis match against Norway's Casper Ruud on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Day 13 of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex. Matthieu Mirville/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
German tennis player Alexander Zverev reacts during his Men's Singles Semi Final tennis match against Norway's Casper Ruud on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Day 13 of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex. Matthieu Mirville/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
Spanish tennis player Carlos Alcaraz plays a backhand return to Italy's Jannik Sinner during their Men's Singles Semi Final tennis match on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Day 13 of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex. Loic Baratoux/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
Spanish tennis player Carlos Alcaraz plays a backhand return to Italy's Jannik Sinner during their Men's Singles Semi Final tennis match on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Day 13 of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex. Loic Baratoux/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa
Spanish tennis player Carlos Alcaraz plays a backhand return to Italy's Jannik Sinner during their Men's Singles Semi Final tennis match on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Day 13 of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros Complex. Loic Baratoux/ZUMA Press Wire/dpa