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Ricky’s picks for Day 13 at the French Open: Men’s semifinals

It’s men’s semifinal day at the French Open on Friday, and even without any member of the Big 3 involved it’s still quite a lineup. Jannik Sinner vs. Carlos Alcaraz is currently the best rivalry in tennis, while Alexander Zverev vs. Casper Ruud is a rematch of last year’s semifinal in Paris.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(3) Carlos Alcaraz vs. (2) Jannik Sinner

Sinner and Alcaraz will be squaring off for the ninth time in their careers on the main tour when they clash in the Roland Garros semis on Friday afternoon. They have split the wins at four apiece, with Alcaraz most notably triumphing 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-7(0), 7-5, 6-3 in an epic 2022 U.S. Open quarterfinal. The Spaniard also win their most recent meeting 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 earlier this spring on the hard courts of Indian Wells, but Sinner has won two of their last three encounters.

Both players have looked great in Paris while bouncing back from recent physical problems. Sinner, who will become No. 1 in the world on Monday regardless of his results the rest of the way, has advanced by beating Chris Eubanks, Richard Gasquet, Pavel Kotov, Corentin Moutet, and Grigor Dimitrov. Alcaraz punched his ticket to the last four with victories over J.J. Wolf, Jesper de Jong, Sebastian Korda, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Each man has dropped just a single set. Another enthralling contest should be in the cards, but Sinner has been the best player on tour dating back to last fall and I give him a slight edge–if his body holds up, of course.

Pick: Sinner in 4

(7) Casper Ruud vs. (4) Alexander Zverev

Ruud has defeated Zverev twice in a row to tie up their head-to-head series at 2-2. Their most recent showdown came in none other than the French Open semifinals 12 months ago, when Ruude rolled 6-3, 6-4, 6-0. That could give him the mental advantage on Friday. He may have the physical advantage, too. After all, the seventh-ranked Norwegian got a walkover from Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals while Zverev has played 13 sets in his last thre matches.

It has been quite a fortnight for Zverev. The world No. 4 ran into 14-time champion Rafael Nadal in the opening round and won in three competitive sets before following it up with defeats of David Goffin, Tallon Griekspoor, Holger Rune, and Alex de Minaur. Both Griekspoor and Rune pushed Zverev to five sets and Griekspoor even led by a double-break in the fifth set at 4-1. By comparison Ruud has cruised, although he did go to five sets with Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in round two. All things considered, Ruud may have the upper hand once again–but it will undoubtedly be a lot closer than it was in 2023.

Pick: Ruud in 5

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.