Alexander Zverev wobbled early on but steadied himself to get past ailing seventh seed Casper Ruud 2-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 on Friday and reach the French Open final, where he will take on Carlos Alcaraz for an elusive maiden Grand Slam title.

The fourth seed, competing in his fourth straight Roland Garros semifinal, finally broke through to become the second German man to make the title clash in the Open Era and match Michael Stich’s feat from 1996.

“I’m obviously extremely happy. I have so much history on this court, some of my best and my worst memories are on this court,” said Zverev, who sustained a serious ankle ligament injury during his semi-final against Rafa Nadal in 2022.

“I’m happy to be in the final in my fourth attempt. I’m going to give it my all in the final on Sunday.”

Zverev made a slow start as Ruud grabbed an early break and the first set with some clean ball-striking in front of a sparse crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier, as fans were still recovering from a four-hour epic between Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner.

Having found his range in the second set, Zverev squandered the opportunity to grab a double break with a wayward volley but the 27-year-old pulled away to level the match and broke in the fifth game of third set before extending his advantage.

The 25-year-old Ruud slowly looked like himself again after dealing with a stomach issue but his hopes of a third successive Paris final faded when Zverev struck in the Norwegian’s opening service game in the fourth set and ran away with the match.

“I knew I had to be much more aggressive. The first two sets were a high level, then I saw he was struggling,” Zverev said.

“Credit to him to play until the end and fight until the end. He’s a great champion and person and definitely he’s going to be back.”

Having lost to Dominic Thiem in the 2020 US Open final, Zverev said he was ready to push for a first major title.

“I was two sets to love and a break up and two points away from winning,” Zverev said of his Flushing Meadows title clash.

“But I wasn’t ready to win my first Grand Slam final. I was too much of a kid. I’m 27 now, definitely not a kid anymore. If not now, then when? I’m in my first Roland Garros final and hopefully I can win my first Grand Slam.”