Tennis: Alcaraz survives injury scare to reach sixth final of 2022

Carlos Alcaraz will face Jannik Sinner in the Croatia Open. PHOTO: REUTERS

UMAG, CROATIA (AFP) - Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz survived a worrying ankle injury scare to beat Giulio Zeppieri and set up an Umag final showdown against Jannik Sinner, the man who ended his Wimbledon hopes.

The 19-year-old, who will reach a career high four in the world next week, triumphed 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 against world No. 168 Zeppieri of Italy in a gruelling semi-final on the Croatian clay court.

Alcaraz overcame rolling his right ankle in the second set and hoped to be fully fit for Sunday's (July 31) final against second seed Sinner.

The final will be Alcaraz's 100th Tour-level match.

"It's amazing to be in a final here again. I enjoy playing here in Umag," said the Spaniard, after reaching his sixth final of his career.

"At the moment, the ankle is good. I don't feel too much right now. Let's see tonight or tomorrow morning, but I am going to say I will be ready for the final.

He added: "It would be amazing in my 100th match to get the win and of course it is amazing to be No. 4 on Monday. It's something great for me but, right now, I am just focused on the final."

Sinner reached his first final of the year by knocking out fellow Italian, qualifier Franco Agamenone, 6-1, 6-3.

World No. 10 Sinner defeated Alcaraz in four sets in the last 16 at Wimbledon before going on to surrender a two-set lead to lose to eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals.

"The final will be very tough. Everyone was expecting this match-up," said Sinner.

"Today I played quite well. Also Carlos is playing well. I'll try to play some good tennis. I have to raise my level if I want to win, so I will try to prepare in the best possible way."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.