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Jun 9, 2024 3:13 pm

Carlos Alcaraz tops Alexander Zverev to win first French Open

Carlos Alcaraz Roland Garros

The next great Spaniard has arrived at the French Open.

Third-seeded Carlos Alcaraz came from behind to defeat fourth-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 in four hours and 19 minutes to win his third Grand Slam title on Sunday — his first on the clay courts at Roland Garros in Paris.

At 21, he is the youngest man to win a Grand Slam on clay, grass and hard courts. He won the U.S. Open in 2022 and Wimbledon in 2023.

And with the win, Alcaraz continued the Spanish legacy at the French Open, where his boyhood idol, Rafael Nadal, is a 14-time champion. He is the eighth Spanish man to win a singles title in Paris.

He won despite missing three weeks of preparation on the clay courts because of an arm injury.

“It has been incredible work,” said Alcaraz to his team after receiving the trophy from six-time champion Bjorn Borg. “The last month we were struggling a lot with the injury. Looking back to Madrid, I didn’t feel well. The next week there were a lot of doubts and then coming here and practicing not too much. I am really grateful to have the team that I have and the people I have around.

“I know that everyone in my team is giving their heart just to make me improve as a player and a person. To grow up. So I am really grateful and I call you a team, but it is a family.”

Alcaraz managed to handle the big serve of Zverev, converting nine of 16 break points. The German cashed in on just six of his 23 chances.

None of those missed opportunities were costlier than in the fourth game of the fifth set. After Alcaraz broke his opponent’s serve to go up 2-1, Zverev came storming back to take a 40-0 lead and looked as if he would regain the momentum in the match with three break points in his pocket.

With Alcaraz serving down 15-40, his second serve was called out, but after the chair umpire looked at the ball mark on the clay, the call was reversed — despite a plea from Zverev. Alcaraz went on to fend off the remaining break point — plus another one with advantage Zverev — to take a 3-1 lead in the decisive set.

Alcaraz defeated the No. 2 seed, Italy’s Jannik Sinner, in five sets in the semifinals to advance to Sunday’s final. He became the first player since Rod Laver in 1962 to win the French Open with five-set victories in the last two rounds.

For Zverev, this represents his second loss in a Grand Slam final. At the 2020 U.S. Open, he took a two-set lead over Dominic Thiem of Austria before losing a five-set heartbreaker.

The 27-year-old Zverev was looking for his first Grand Slam victory.

Alcaraz, post-match, assured Zverev — who suffered a severe ankle injury at Roland Garros two years ago — that it was just around the corner.

“It is unbelievable the level that you are playing and the level of work you are putting in every day. I know you give your heart every day you step on the court.

“I think that I know everything you have been through in the past years with the injury on this court, the work that you put in to today being here in the final of this tournament. It has been an unbelievable journey since then. I am pretty sure you will have the opportunities to win slams or this tournament very, very soon.”

Alcaraz needed treatment on his thigh in the fourth set but was able to win eight of the final 10 games.

“Third Grand Slam, 21 years old. It’s incredible,” Zverev said of Alcaraz. “You won three different ones. You’re already a Hall of Famer.”

–Field Level Media

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