Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz will take on Casper Ruud in the men’s singles final at the 2022 French Open after defeating home favourite Frances Tiafoe in a five-set semi-final thriller.
Still with the number one ranking in his sights, Alcaraz ended Tiafoe’s hopes of Grand Slam glory on his own turf with a 6-7(6), 6-3, 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-3 success.
Having been involved in the second-longest match in US Open history against Jannik Sinner – winning his quarter-final in five hours and 15 minutes – Alcaraz took four hours and 19 minutes to beat an inspired Tiafoe.
The third seed his an astounding 78 winners on the day and won 76% of points on net approaches, although he only posted six aces compared to Tiafoe’s 15.
“To be honest in the semi-final of a Grand Slam you have to give everything… we have to fight until the last ball. It doesn’t matter if we are fighting for five hours, six hours. It doesn’t matter. You have to give everything on court,” Alcaraz said on his on-court interview.
“It’s amazing to be able to fight for big things. First time in the final of a Grand Slam. I can see the No. 1 in the world, but at the same time it’s so far away.
“I have one more to go against a player who is unbelievable. He deserves to play a final. He played the final of a Grand Slam in Roland Garros. This is my first time.
“I’m going to give everything that I have. I will have to handle the nerves of being in a final of a Grand Slam, but obviously I’m really, really happy and as I said before every match, I’m going to enjoy. I’m going to enjoy the moment and let’s see what happens.”
Standing in his way of Grand Slam glory and a spot at the summit is Norway’s Ruud, who overcame the big-serving Karen Khachanov in four sets to give himself another shot at winning a major title.
The French Open runner-up prevailed 7-6(5), 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 on a day where both men hit 57 winners apiece, but Ruud impressed with 20 out of 23 net approach points won.
Also winning 83% of points on his first serve compared to 68% for Khachanov, Ruud recovered from a third-set blip to win five games on the bounce in the fourth.
“I think we were both a bit nervous at the beginning, a few breaks back and forth. But you have to take into account that this match is probably the biggest in both of our careers,” Ruud said on the court. “Of course there will also be some nerves but I was fortunate to win that first set, which calmed my nerves a little bit.
“I played phenomenal in the second and Karen stepped up in the third. It was back and forth like every five-setter is, but I am just so happy.
“After Roland Garros I was extremely happy but of course humble enough to think that could be my only final at a Grand Slam in my career. It doesn’t come easy, but here I am back again a couple [of] months later.”
Poland’s Iga Swiatek and Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur will face off in the women’s final before Alcaraz and Ruud take to the Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday.