Carlos Algarz defeated Janic Sinner in five sets in the French Open semifinals

One of the defining images of the French Open over the past 20 years has been a headband-wearing, fist-pumping Rafael Nadal on red clay shouting “vamos!” in large measure.

The 14-time champion was firmly in the twilight of his career and, having bowed out in the first round in Paris, the rally cry now lives in the heart of a new Spanish contender.

21-year-old Carlos Algaras held off budding Italian rival Janic Sinner to reach his fourth Grand Slam semi-final in the past year with a 2-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 win. Third Grand Slam final of his career. Algarz, the reigning Wimbledon champion and US Open champion in 2022, extended his dominance on Friday – becoming the first man to reach a Grand Slam final on all three surfaces before turning 22.

It was fitting that Algarza and Sinner would meet in their first French Open semifinal since 2014, four players under 30. Friday’s second match on Sunday will be the first men’s final at Roland Garros since 2004 without Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer.

With Djokovic out before the quarter-finals, Algarza, who will become the new world No. 1 and first Italian No. 1 on Monday, and the 22-year-old Sinner are working to secure the big matches that have defined tennis’ recent golden age. Continue in the new age.

The pair tied each other 4-4 against Court Philippe-Satrier on Friday, and gold was buried in those bouts. Algaraz won a US Open quarterfinal two years ago that ended at 2:50 a.m. after five sets of fireworks. Another Algaraz victory in a three-set semifinal at Indian Wells this year was again a miracle after the Spaniard dropped the first set 1-6.

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“The way he hits the ball is unbelievable,” Algaraz said this week. “The way he moves, it’s really good. He [pushes] With every ball, every point you come within range. I think it’s the hardest thing to face Janik. At the same time, I love it. I love these kinds of matches. … I want to find a way to beat him and find solutions like I did at Indian Wells.”

Algaras had to find a way in a decisive fifth set on Friday as well. At 6-foot-2 and a handsome mover for all his country, Sinner arrived at the French Open with a groin injury that kept him out of tennis for three weeks. He appeared to be wilting after the handshake and several visits from the trainer, some of which were for foot massages early in the match.

The Spaniard stormed back in the fifth set to take a 3-0 lead.

In a crucial fifth game, Algaraz fought back from a 0-30 hole with gutsy tennis to take a 4-1 lead, sliding the ball over the net to tie the game for the second time at 40-40. Rarely cutting the line with a backhand that looks like sailing out. He then turned to the crowd for a mighty fist pump, rallying the fans with his hands in the middle of Sinner Court in angry disbelief.

As the late evening sun cast half the court in shadow, each serve held until Alcaraz got to the line at 5-3. He sent a match point back into the net at 40-30, then got his second game with more guts in the form of a 112-mph second serve but lost the point by sending a forehand long. Finally, on the third match point, he won when a lunging chinner sent a flying backhand out.

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Algaraz raised both arms, threw back his head and roared, the Spanish tradition cemented for at least one more match on the red clay at Roland Garros.

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