Skip to content

Carlos Alcaraz V Jannik Sinner: French Open Men’s Semi-Final Goes To Fifth Set – Live

Key events

Show key events onlyPlease turn on JavaScript to use this feature

*Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 4-1 Sinner Chalé! Sinner, miles out of court, power-strokes a backhand around the net-post and Alcaraz can’t respond; an error and it’s 0-30! There’s not, though, loads he can do about the next two points, both of which he loses; a long return then a long backhand, one apiece, and we’re at deuce. The way these are able to produce this level at this stage of the match is as mind-boggling as it is moving, and after Alcaraz makes advantage, a tremendous return helps restore deuce. So Alcaraz takes a swing volley out of the air for a backhand winner, a tricky pressure-shot made harder than it needed to be, then made to look easy; belatedly, he salutes the crowd saluting him, and from there he tidies up. He’s two games away and is having the time of his life out there; what a joy it is that someone gets to be him.

Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 3-1 Sinner* Sinner will know the jig is almost up, and from 0-30 it’s soon 30-all, Alcaraz playing a relatively poor drop before spiriting a pass cross-court. Sinner, though, unloads the suitcase at a forehand down the line – he’s found it hard to open that channel the last two sets – and a backhand down the line gets him on the board in this set.

Photograph: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images*Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 3-0 Sinner A poor drop at 3-0 invites Sinner into the game; a netted forehand suggests he make himself comfortable. Alcaraz, though, is the host with least, Sinner half-killing himself forcing a route into the next rally only to be hoofed right out of it; a normal-service-is-resumed drop secures the consolidation.

Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 2-0 Sinner* Yup, a big backhand sets up the rally … but Sinner forces his way into it, only to swat a backhand wide from well inside court! This could be the match right here, but a volley makes 15-all and a long return 30-15 … before another carnally exciting lob levels the game. And here we go! Sinner nets a straightforward backhand, but goodness me what stones! What imagination! Behind the baseline, he caresses a drop to make deuce … only for Alcaraz to skid into a backhand, right in the corner, to send back a winner at a mathematically impossible angle for advantage! I cannot believe what I’ve seen there; his ability to break wrists reminds me a bit of Kevin Pietersen’s flamingo shot, and he’s soon punishing a forehand into open court for the break! We said the match might be here, and it certainly feels that way now!

*Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 1-0 Sinner Alcaraz looks the fresher man and, as I type, he explodes into a forehand to the corner that makes 40-0. He holds to 15, and I’d expect him to do everything he can to attack Sinner’s serve next game.

Carlos Alcaraz wins the fourth set 6-4 to level the match at 2-2!Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 Sinner* A backhand down the line reverses momentum in the first rally and a clean-up forehand makes 15-0; it’s soon 30-0. But look at this! Two backhands into the corner look to have won the next point, only for Alcaraz to hoist as lob that is, frankly, an outrage – he finishes off at the net – then Sinner clumps an overhead unnecessarily hard and the ball falls wide! How crucial might that be?! Perhaps very, because when Sinner goes long and wide, sent to the forehand corner by a tremendous forehand, he has a chance to force a decider, and will face a second serve too. AND THERE IT IS! A forehand sends Sinner to the corner, and though his response is decent, the court is open for the winner and the Italian will be feeling exceedingly poorly; he was primed for a simple hold until he made a mess of that smash, and now look! The rest of us, though, will be feeling exceptionally great, because we’re now getting another set of this joy and love.

We’ve got a deciding set! Photograph: Mateo Villalba/Getty Images*Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 5-4 Sinner A double hands Sinner 15-all and a terrific get, a moon-ball on to the line, puts him bang in the next point … until Alcaraz unleashes a borderline illegal forehand. Then, at 40-15, someone in the crowd is taken ill, so we pause – but not for long, and on the resumption, a netted backhand gives Sinner a sniff, then he sends a backhand wide. After a sit-down, he’ll serve to stay in the set.

Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 4-4 Sinner* A quicksmart love-hold for Sinner, who isn’t hitting as many absurd winners as Alcaraz, but who also feels lees likely to put himself under pressure with a couple of errors.

*Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 4-3 Sinner Both men are playing well now, Alcaraz – in the knowledge that a break might mean the end – paints a scrumptious drop for 30-0 only to get too flash with a backhand volley, glancing it when offers plenty of simpler options. But what on earth?! Sent sprinting and stretching to the corner, he somehow powers a ludicrous winner down the line with Sinner, like all sensible people, having assumed the point was his. From there, he closes out, as news reaches us that Jasmine Paolini is through to the final of the women’s doubles with her partner, Sara Errani.

Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 3-3 Sinner* Alcaraz can’t take advantage of a second serve, missing with his return for 0-15 … then, after a brilliant backhand takes control of a rally at 15-all, he dumps an overhead. But have an absolute look! He dashes in to respond to a drop and legs again akimbo, he invents an angle I’ve never seen before, a winner sent across the face of the net. Sinner, though, is nails under pressure and finds two first serves that allow him to dictate the next two points and secure his hold. This is great stuff.

The absolute best of men’s tennis on display this afternoon in Paris. Photograph: Mohammed Badra/EPA*Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 3-2 Sinner From behind the baseline, Sinner finds a glorious angle to go cross on the forehand, cleaning up with another down the line. But Alcaraz makes 30-15, again giving his shots just a little more air to send his opponent’s timing out of whack, before a terrific point – serve out wide, big backhand, deft volley – allows him to secure the game with an ace. He’s playing nicely again…

Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 2-2 Sinner* Alcaraz is vexed after looping a forehand long; a netted return then an ace do not improve his countenance. But what a shot he produces when given room by an errant serve, a lovely forehand muscled into the corner for a winner. it does him no good, a forehand sent long ceding the game, and knowing that a break could mean curtains, he’s under quite some pressure next game.

*Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 2-1 Sinner A backhand into the net-cord means 0-15, but a drop-lob combo allow a forehand down the line, Sinner having done all he could to drag an overhead into play. An ace follows, then a strange – and high-class rally in which sinner appears to go long, but there’s no call so Alcaraz plays on, sending a forehand wide; a mahoosive serve redeems the situation, then a lush serve/half-volley combo-move secures the hold.

Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 1-1 Sinner* Excellent work from Sinner crafting the chance to spank a forehand winner cross-court; it gives him 40-0, and a long return means another swift hold.

*Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 1-0 Sinner “When Alcaraz happened everyone expected him to be a new dawn,” says Krishnamoorthy V. “Was it another false one? With Federer and Nadal out of the picture and Djokovic showing the first signs that he might actually be a human after all, the next generation is conspicuously missing.” I’m not sure about that – Alcaraz is only 21 and has two majors, whereas Djokovic and Federer didn’t win their first until that age while Nadal was 22 when he won his first that wasn’t the French. Anyhow, Alcaraz holds to 15, sealing the deal with an ace, and he needs to refind the aggression that he deployed in set two.

Jannik Sinner wins the third set to lead 2-1!Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-6 Sinner* I meant to say, before that last game, Sinner had the trainer out again – not for a medical timeout but for an arm-massage – so we know he’s got a problem. At 15-all, though, he comes forward behind a succession of sizeable forehands, one big enough to secure the point, an ace down the T follows, and when Alcaraz nets a forehand, Sinner has a 2-1 lead!

*Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 3-5 Sinner Email! “I was wondering if you have an idea why Sinner’s 1st serve percentage has been consistently low,” writes Jonas Canizares. “Is he getting enough height on the toss for an optimal contact point? Is he not pronating enough when he hits the ball? From what I’m seeing, it seems he’s missing most first serves not because it doesn’t clear the net, but because it goes a tad long beyond the service line.” I wonder if the wind is either taking the ball outside the box or inciting him to overhit … but maybe he’s just having a bad serving day. Imagine being able to do what he’s done today and it be not good enough. Anyroad, a fine return earns him 30-all, the set just two points away, but from there Alcaraz closes out; he’ll have to serve for it. P-R-E-S-S-U-R-E.

Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 2-5 Sinner* Just as I’m typing Sinner is back playing as he did in set one, he skids in to punch away a volley … and nets for 15-30. A decent second serve followed by a big forehand, though, levels the game, then a sensational second serve, cut so fine it makes the air bleed, helps secure the consolidation. Four in a row for Sinner now, and he’s one away from a 2-1 lead.

Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 2-4 Sinner* Sinner has the trainer out massaging his forearm but he was absolutely zetzing forehands in that last game so is hopefully fine. And he makes 0-15 only to be diddled by a lob, but when he’s asked in via drop, his response is good enough to facilitate an overhead winner next shot. Then, at 30-all, Alcaraz plays a decent volley so Sinner rushes in to go line; the riposte is netted, raising break point … botched when a backhand is sent long, the down-the-line channel having been forced open. A big forehand, though, earns advantage … quickly eradicated with serve-volley one-two. The games are getting longer and even tenser, all the more so when Alcaraz goes long on the backhand. And goodness gracious me! Sent almost into the stands by an almost-perfect first serve, Sinner uses the extra angle and breaks his wrists to send a barely believable backhand cross-court at an oblique angle to secure the break! That is absolutely ridiculous behaviour!

Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 2-3 Sinner* Up 15-30, Alcaraz delivers one of his trademark forehands out of nowhere, increasing the heat with no apparent increase of effort. Two break points, but Sinner is in trouble, ironing out his forearms and asking for the trainer – is he struggling with intensity-induced cramp, similar to that which kiboshed Alcaraz at this stage last year? Well, he finds a way to make deuce … then delivers a double … then serves into the net … then serves a let; that won’t be helping him control the tension, but a colossal forehand sets up the putaway, and this feels like a crucial game now. And Sinner takes a big step towards making it his by sending Alcaraz wide then crunching a forehand winner down the line … then delivers his fourth double of the set. Then, after burning another game-point, a poor drop, sent back with interest, means another breaking opportunity … spurned via overhit, underpsun backhand. From there, Sinner closes out with an ace and service-winner; what was all the fuss about?

Sinner receives treatment for cramp in his arms. It doesn’t seem to be slowing him down, though. Photograph: Tim Goode/Getty Images*Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 2-2 Sinner It feels like the better clay-courter – and, perhaps the better player – is now playing the better, another winner making 15-all. But a double gives up 30-all, thwacking from the back raises break-back point, and a tremendous return, backed up by a forehand winner into the corner, give Sinner a badly needed tonic. We’re back on serve in set three, and these two are so well-matched.

Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 2-1 Sinner* A double means 0-15, then another barrage of shots, spin and velocity varied, sees a backhand loop wide; Sinner has only won 1/5 second-serve points this set. And a further error means two breaking opportunities, a monster followed by an ace taking us to deuce. And look at that! Offered a short forehand, Alcaraz ninjas a forehand winner that breaks the sideline, Sinner goes long on the backhand … or does he? Nope, he doesn’t – he lands a ball punkt in the middle of the line … for all the good it does him! Because next rally, he sends Alcaraz to the backhand corner … only for the Spaniard to skid and stretch into a cross-court winner that’s inspirationally, mortifyingly brilliant, and there is the break! He’s got his joy back and he’s bang on top now!

*Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 1-1 Sinner Alcaraz is holding comfortably now, trashing gorgeously from the back at 40-15 to secure the game. He’s remembered to smile now, and his clay-court smarts are also asserting themselves.

Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 0-1 Sinner* Now it’s Sinner who needs to have a think – he was a break up in set two, remember – but a fourth double hands over 15-30. Alcaraz, though, swings wide having opened up a channel down the line, and from there the game swiftly disappears. Might we be reaching that elusive point at which both players play well?

Carlos Alcaraz wins the second set 6-3 to level the match at 1-1!*Alcaraz 2-6 6-3 Sinner At 30-0, Alcaraz lands a serve just the wrong side of the T then, after an inspection, nets a backhand. No matter: a lovely drop raises two set points, a backhand return is plenty long, and Alcaraz is dominating now!

Carlos Alcaraz celebrates winning the second set! Photograph: Tim Goode/Getty ImagesAlcaraz 2-6 5-3 Sinner* A banging backhand cross makes 0-15, but Sinner clatters a winner of his own to level things – that feels like his first of those in a while. Which may or may not be the case, but it’s certainly the case that he’s doing so less often, Alcaraz doing a better job of keeping him on the move and keeping him guessing. From there, though, Sinner closes out, forcing his opponent to serve for the set – with new balls, which won’t do him any harm.

*Alcaraz 2-6 5-2 Sinner We said at the start that this match was likely to be decided by how well our players play, not how they play, and that’s been the case so far: Sinner was great in set one and Alcaraz was poor, whereas now he’s got his timing, especially on the forehand. Perhaps it took him a while to adjust to the court given the sun, or perhaps he was nervous; perhaps both. An error at 40-15, though, makes the consolidation tense, and a forehand into the corner from Sinner is enough for deuce – though Alcaraz almost lands an improbable riposte. Gosh, two big forehands lands really close to the line but make advantage, and from there, he secures the game. This is on a rolling boil now and there’s plenty more to come from both.

Alcaraz 2-6 4-2 Sinner* At 15-all, Alcaraz a backhand slice, but what a lob he conjures thereafter, even if Sinner had no business picking him out with plenty else at which to aim. And might it cost him? Alcaraz has that forehand working now, another booming expletive setting up a volley with Sinner stranded. And what a holler we hear when Sinner wallops a forehand wide! That’s the break and do we go ourselves a ball-game? We got ourselves a ball-game!

*Alcaraz 2-6 3-2 Sinner At 30-0, the comfy hold Alcaraz badly needs looks within grasp, but a double – greeted with a yelp of anguish – soon levels things. Sinner than swats a backhand wide having come in – that was a chance – and a monstrous forehand into the corner allows a straightforward putaway into the space. Much, much better from Alzcaraz and he leads a set for the first time.

Alcaraz 2-6 2-2 Sinner* A forehand error from Sinner then a jazzer from Alcaraz and suddenly it’s 0-30; is the Italian cooling a little? He might be! A double follows, and after a return drops out, Alcaraz again gets that forehand going, an exocet sent cross-court giving him the break-back! Do we got ourselves a ball-game?

*Alcaraz 2-6 1-2 Sinner Alcaraz has only held once and again finds himself down 0-15, but a leaping crackerjack of a forehand, inside-out to the corner, will have him feeling marginally better. Then, at 30-15, he wins a net battle, looking one way while playing his half-volley the other – that is beautiful and a tiny slice of pure, unadulterated Carlitos – finishes the point with a backhand down the line, then secures the game. Better from the Wimbledon champ.

Alcaraz 2-6 0-2 Sinner* Alcaraz played a bit better in the second half of the first set so it seemed fair to expect his improvement to continue; not so. Up 0-15, a backhand return zips long and wide, prompting much chuntering; those smiles that defuse tense moments are currently conspicuous by their absence. Still, a double gives him a sniff … but then Sinner canes a forehand on to the baseline and Alcaraz can’t control his response. He’s ticking here and I’m not surprised – this might be the worst I’ve seen him play – and when he’s hauled into the net via drop, the forehand clean-up is inevitable.

*Alcaraz 2-6 0-1 Sinner Alcaraz has some thinking to do. He’s already tried giving the ball more air, but the main issue, I think, was is how often he’s been missing on the forehand. And he doesn’t even get to hit one in the first point, a double handing over 0-15 … then another forehand error making 0-30. So needing the next point, he goes for it on second serve and is rewarded for that bravery, then a luscious drop levels things. Again, though, a poor groundstroke – this time on the backhand side – means a chance for another break, and facing a second delivery, Sinner will be aggravated that his backhand return falls long. But in a sadly predictable turn of events, yet another overhit forehand cedes advantage, a loopy return lands close to the line, and goodness me: Alcaraz goes long again! Sinner leads by a set and a break!

Jannik Sinner wins the first set 6-2!Alcaraz 2-6 Sinner* Every now and again Alcaraz ups the forehand pace to supersonic, but generally Sinner seems to be thumping it harder and quickly makes 30-0. And though an error invites his opponent into the game, more concussive forehands raise 40-15 … then two rubbish ones take us to deuce! But a short ball from Alcaraz allows Sinner to take control of the next rally with a forehand into the corner, and eventually he forces the error, then a drop floats into the net and that is a very impressive set (of tennis) from the new world no1.

Jannik Sinner (right) celebrates winning a point during the first set. Photograph: Thibault Camus/APAlcaraz 2-5 Sinner* At 40-15, Alcaraz nets unnecessarily – he just can’t get his rhythm – Sinner isn’t letting him – and then a forehand down the line and into the corner earns a chance to drop and it’s good enough to force a netted response; deuce. And, well, eesh: a double follows … but Sinner surprisingly nets a forehand. No matter: Alcaraz nets another forehand – this is becoming an issue for him – then a sensational rally, featuring a drop, a lob and various gets, ends when the Spaniard hammers a forehand cross fractionally wide. He’s been broken three times in the set, and those are not words anyone supposed to type. After a little sit-down, Sinner will serve for 1-0!

Alcaraz 2-4 Sinner* With his opponent stranded at the net, Sinner clobbers a forehand pass for 15-0, but a succession of big forehands control the next rally – that’s pretty much how Alcaraz wants the points to look – and he levels the game, then again at 30-all with a lob on to the line that sets up overhead putaway. And what’s this? A Sinner error means break point, then they go backhand to backhand … and it’s the Italian who errs! Alcaraz has a break back, and though it may be too late to save this set, he’ll feel much better for it.

Carlos Alcaraz bashes a backhand to Jannik Sinner. Photograph: Lisi Niesner/Reuters*Alcaraz 1-4 Sinner Almost every point on the Alcaraz serve is a struggle and Sinner makes 0-15 when a big forehand is enough to end the longest rally of the match so far at 20 strokes. The Spaniard, though. is adjusting, giving the ball more air at 30-15 before punishing a backhand winner down the line that’s followed by a loud “Vamos!” and fist-pump as he tries to get himself going. He closes out well after that, and is on the board.

Alcaraz 0-4 Sinner* On Monday, Sinner will be the new world number one, and he’s playing like he is – everything is unrushed, and he’s winning points easily – that’s a second love-hold out of two, and already, this set looks did.

*Alcaraz 0-3 Sinner Is Alcaraz is getting there? He makes 30-15 with a backhand winner. But Sinner returns a serve that’s nearly an ace with an excellent forehand hook into the corner and from there he levels the game – at the moment, he’s building the points better, and a backhand winner on to the line offers a point for a second break! And what on earth! Another decent return from Sinner asks a question, but a shank off the frame isn’t the wrong answer anyone was expecting and that is indeed a double break! It’s worth noting that in last year’s Wimbledon final, Djokovic won the first set 6-1, but Alcaraz isn’t in the kind of form now that he was in then.

Alcaraz 0-2 Sinner* I can’t get my head around why Sinner wears a rust-coloured t-shirt – perhaps to camouflage himself in the clay, but then why not bin the hat to get the barnet involved? While we ponder these vital questions, the man himself holds to love, and he’s looking great out there – winning in Australia has raised both his ceiling and floor.

Photograph: Stéphanie Lecocq/Reuters*Alcaraz 0-1 Sinner (*denotes server) At 15-0 we see Sinner come in and, though he’s pushed back, he’s not pushed all the way back, and he backpeddles to paste a forehand winner cross-court from the backhand side. And have a look! A terrific slides sees him, legs akimbo, crack a backhand winner cross from round about the same spot – these are very good signs. Alcaraz, though, makes 40-30 … only to then net, tentative with the point at his Murcia mercy, settling himself with an ace down the T. But when he tries his first drop, Sinner chases it down – there’s that higher bounce – then makes advantage. Already this is an intense, compelling contest that feels like it could still be going on tomorrow – please! – and when Alcaraz dumps a second forehand, Sinner has the break!

Alcaraz to serve and … play.

These two have played eight times so far and it’s 4-4. And remember last year, Alcaraz’s body – and, if we’re honest, mind – gave up on him against Djokovic, the stress of the contest causing him to cramp up. That won’t happen today because he’ll have made certain it won’t happen again, ever, but he won’t have forgotten it.

Jannik Sinner (left) and Carlos Alcaraz pose for a picture prior to their semi-final. Photograph: Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty ImagesOur players are in the tunnel, stretching. I cannot wait for this, and the happy chance is that I don’t have to – we’re ready, and here they come!

I guess I’m leaning Sinner, now that you don’t ask, because I think he has greater momentum. But if Alacaraz is at it, as the better, more experienced clay-courter – and still, just about, I think, the better player – I’d go with him

It’s sunny today, which means decent pace and bounce – and yes I did type that in Michael Holding’s voice. I wonder if that might help Sinner, as Alcaraz loves a drop, but as I consider that, Àlex Corretja explains that it might favour Carlitos, who uses more top-spin on the forehand and is better at moving side to side.

Calvin Betton, our resident coach, messages on the second semi: “If it’s FH to FH then Ruud, if it’s BH To BH, Zverev. Zverrev has the best first serve in the game and best BH in the game plus he makes a lot of them; Ruud’s BH is very poor.”

And of course that’s not our only match: later on, Katy Murrells will coax you through Casper Ruud v Alexander Zverev in a repeat of last year’s semi – which Ruud won in three. I’m not sure it’ll be like that this time, but – Zverev has improved a lot since then and has the bigger weapons. Consequently, if he plays well he almost definitely wins, but if Ruud can get after what remains a dicky forehand – he’s just better at hiding it now – and second serve, he’s a chance.

PreambleTennis is in a funny place at the moment; a funny place, but a great place. When watching the women’s competitions, we’re generally clueless as to what might come to pass – who had Mirra Andreeva and Jasmine Paolini as semi-finalists? No one. Whereas watching the men, we feel like we more or less know – who had Jannik Sinner, Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev as semi-finalists? Er, everyone? The only surprise is the absence of Novak Djokovic, and but for injury he’d presumably have found a way of sneaking in.

Now, though, who knows? Over the last year or so, Jannik Sinner has discovered his best self, adding pop to his already nails groundstrokes and improving his hands at the net. He also knows he can come from behind then stay calm enough to see out the win, in the final of a Grand Slam – and that he’s still got plenty of improving left to do.

Carlos Alcaraz knows the same things – yes, without the staying calm bit, but that’s the beauty of him and a beauty of this contest. Like Sinner, he’ll attack everything, but unlike Sinner, you simply cannot predict how; the tuissle is artist v artisan, jamming v playing and freestyling v rapping.

So what are the points of difference? Well, Sinner hits it slightly harder but Alcaraz hits it slightly more consistently, and on clay the latter is of slightly greater use. But on this occasion the sense is that style – how they play – will be subservient to substance – how well they play. Or, in other words, I don’t have a clue, and anyone who says they do is lying. What, though, feels certain, is that this match-up is not just the present but the future – and it’s going to be great.

Play: not before 2.30pm local, 1.30pm BST

Featured News