Alexander Zverev produced one of the best performances of his season to defeat 19 year-old and arguably Roland Garros favourite Carlos Alcaraz to reach the last four in Paris for a second year in a row. Zverev has the incentive of becoming world number one should he win his maiden grand slam title. Standing in Zverev’s way is Rafael Nadal as the Spaniard’s search for a 14th Roland Garros title continues after an epic four set victory over Novak Djokovic.
H2H & Match Fundamentals
Alexander Zverev  v Rafael Nadal 
H2H: Nadal leads 6-3
Prize Money: €600,000
Court Philippe-Chatrier, not before 2:45pm (1:45pm BST)
Zverev produced one of the best performances and results of the year as the German defeated Alcaraz to reach the semi-finals in Paris. The German’s ability to improve when it matters most now sees him on the brink of a maiden grand slam title and a chance to be the new world number one.
However Zverev will have to climb mount Everest to get to tennis’ pinnacle as he takes on Nadal who’s historic search for a 14th Roland Garros title continues after his four hour win over Djokovic. Despite his foot injury dominating the pre-tournament agenda, Nadal now stands on the brink of history and a chance to cement his legacy even more as the greatest of all time.
Speaking ahead of his semi-final encounter Zverev is fully aware that time isn’t on his side and that now is the time to take his opportunity, “At the end of the day, I’m not 20 or 21 years old anymore,” Zverev told the ATP website.
“I’m 25. I am at the stage where I want to win, I’m at the stage where I’m supposed to win, as well. There is a reason why they are the best in the world at Grand Slams. They have been top of the game for the past 15, 20 years, and there is a big reason for that. Yes, I have not beaten them in majors, but I feel like I was very close.
“I feel like I have had very difficult and tough matches against them…But there is a big difference between having a tough match and beating them. Hopefully I can manage and take this win today and put it on the court on Friday.”
As for Nadal he spoke about the emotional side of winning a match like his quarter-final one and admits history is not on his mind at the moment, “I became emotional because, of course, the last three months and a half for me, the only thing that I can say is it hasn’t been easy,” Nadal told the ATP website.
“Not going to be talking about all the things I went through the last couple of months any more now, because I have to keep going, but of course it hasn’t been a fun three months. All these things… make this match more special, without a doubt.
“Of course there is always a conversation about the player who’ll finish with more Slams or who is the best [in] history, but from my perspective [it] doesn’t matter that much. We achieved our dreams. We made history in this sport because we did things that didn’t happen before. So from my perspective… the level of [us] three is very equal. It’s not much difference, so [it] doesn’t matter.”
Zverev will need dictate points on his serve in an aggressive fashion and take the match out of the Spaniard’s hands as much as possible. While Nadal will look to use depth and spin to neutralise the points and get Zverev out of position on as many occasions as possible.
The match-up does not suit Zverev on this surface and although the German has played some good tennis recently, Nadal’s level is too good for even Zverev’s highest level of tennis.
Despite a tough clay-court season heading into this tournament, Casper Ruud has played his best tennis when it matters most and has taken advantage of an open draw to be on the verge of his maiden grand slam final on his favourite surface. Standing in the Norwegian’s way is Marin Cilic who is looking the happiest he has done on a tennis court and is playing some inspired tennis as he looks to complete the grand slam set of finals.
H2H & Match Fundamentals
Casper Ruud  v Marin Cilic 
H2H: Ruud leads 2-0
Prize Money: €600,000
Court Philippe-Chatrier, not before 5:30pm (4:30pm BST)
Ruud now stands on the verge of a maiden grand slam final after a hard-fought win over Holger Rune in the quarter-finals. The Norwegian, who has played better on hard courts this season up until now, is now looking to take advantage of a golden opportunity on his favourite surface.
Next for Ruud is an inspired Cilic who has taken out the Russian duo of Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev in the last two matches. Having reached the final at the other three grand slams the Croatian is now looking to complete the set on his weakest surface.
Ahead of his semi-final match Ruud is relishing the occasion on playing in the biggest matches in the sport, “These are the matches you dream about playing and hopefully of course even the final, if it’s possible,” Ruud told the ATP website.
“I have to be really focussed and bring my ‘A’ game in the semi-final because Marin has played great all week and it’s going to be another tough match.”
As for Cilic he is looking to continue his aggressive tennis as he looks for more history in the latter stages, “It comes from being me,” the Croatian said to the ATP website when he was asked about his strategy against Rublev.
“I played that kind of tennis the whole match, and especially the fifth set was an incredible battle. Andrey played incredibly well, and it was an incredible fair-play performance on the court. A lot of heart, and one had to go down. Today was my day, but Andrey also played an incredible match.”
Ruud will look to find the right balance between defensive solidity and aggressive tennis as he looks to dictate the play. While Cilic will look to continue to be aggressive and playing high percentage tennis as well as being effective on serve.
The match is in the Croatian’s hands and if he continues to play like he did in the last two rounds then he will book a spot in the Roland Garros final. Any slip-ups from the Croatian and Ruud will be sure to take advantage in a match that is a huge opportunity for both players.
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