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Zverev’s “absolute best” was enough to do the “impossible” against Alcaraz

Alexander Zverev made personal history on Tuesday in Paris by beating a top-10 opponent in Carlos Alcaraz. He awaits either Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.

Alexander Zverev, Roland-Garros 2022 Alexander Zverev, Roland-Garros 2022 © Federico Pestellini / Panoramic

For all of his tennis accomplishments, Alexander Zverev had never defeated a top-10 player at a Grand Slam heading into the 2022 French Open.

But there is a first time for everything, and that time for Zverev was on Tuesday afternoon at Roland-Garros — however unlikely it seemed before his match against Carlos Alcaraz began. It’s true that Alcaraz is not one of the Big 3, an all-time great, or a multi-Grand Slam champion like Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer, but considering his incredible level of play in 2022 the Spaniard was a heavy favorite against Zverev.

In fact, the German would call the task “quite impossible” in his post-match press conference.

But it wasn’t impossible. Zverev avenged a 6-3, 6-1 shellacking in the recent Madrid Masters final by defeating Alcaraz 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(7) in the Roland-Garros quarter-finals.

Nonetheless, the No 3 seed wasn’t particularly impressed by his accomplishment.

“To be honest, I don’t think about that in that way,” he responded when asked about the top-10 scalp. “I’ve had a lot of great matches, but yes, I have lost a lot of them. I mean, I’m happy that I have done it. But it’s not my biggest concern, I would say.”

[Alcaraz] is one of the best players in the world right now and beating him at Roland-Garros, (a) Grand Slam, is very important for me.

Alexander Zverev

“I think Carlos is one of the best players in the world right now,” Zverev said afterward. “It seems quite impossible to beat him. I knew that I had to play my absolute best from the first point on. I think (not) letting him go ahead in the match, letting him get the confidence, was going to be a very difficult thing for me to come back from. In the end I’m happy that I won in four sets and didn’t have to go to a fifth set…. It wasn’t like we were just missing shots. I think it was extremely high level.

“He’s one of the best players in the world right now and beating him at Roland Garros, (a) Grand Slam, is very important for me. But next I have the world No 1 or a 13-time champion here. So it’s not really getting easier from here.”

Zverev is right. He finally has a top-10 win at a slam. But if he wants to reach a second major final he will have to score a top-5 victory, because wither Nadal or Djokovic is next up in the semis.

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