Alcaraz reigns at Roland Garros after fierce fightback stuns Zverev

Jonathan Davies in French Open 09 Jun 2024
Alcaraz claimed his maiden French Open crown – and third grand slam (Associated Press / Alamy Stock Photo)

Carlos Alcaraz came from behind to claim his first French Open title after beating Alexander Zverev in a five-set thriller on Sunday.

The Spaniard rallied from two sets to one down in the Roland Garros final, winning 12 of the last 15 games to prevail 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 after four hours and 19 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Alcaraz, champion at the 2022 US Open and Wimbledon 11 months ago, maintained his perfect record in grand slam finals as he landed his third title – all of which have come on different surfaces.

The 21-year-old is the youngest player to achieve that feat, and the first in the Open Era to win his maiden three slams on as many surfaces.

A new men’s singles champion was set to be crowned at Roland Garros for the first time since 2016, when Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray for the first of his three titles.

In his second major final, Zverev opened the contest with back-to-back defaults as the first two games went against the serve, epitomising the early nerves of both players.

Alcaraz – looking to become the eighth Spanish male champion at the clay-court major – stole the crucial advantage with a break to love in game five paving the way for him to win the first set.

Zverev responded well, though, in his quest to become the first male German champion at Roland Garros in the Open Era – 28 years after Michael Stich was a beaten finalist.

The Italian Open champion, who arrived having spent a record 19 hours and 27 minutes on court to reach his maiden French Open championship match, reeled off five successive games to level.

Zverev had won 14 successive points on serve when the first four games of the third set were shared. But Alcaraz brought an abrupt end to that streak, breaking to love and then saving break point to hold for a 5-2 advantage.

However, the German dug deep and embarked on another surge of five straight games to complete the turnaround, and move within a set of a maiden slam.

It was deja vu for Alcaraz, who fell 2-1 behind against new world number one Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals.

Once again, he hit back with a vengeance in the fourth set. A stunning forehand down the line broke Zverev in the second game and, though he required a medical timeout for treatment on his left thigh, the Spaniard subsequently dominated to take the contest the distance.

Alcaraz was 10-1 in fifth sets at major tournaments, while Zverev boasted the same impressive record at Roland Garros alone.

Nevertheless, it subsequently became a very one-sided decider, with the third seed breaking in game three before saving four break points for a crucial hold in the fourth.

That previous experience of getting the job done was evident with Alcaraz growing stronger as the finish line drew ever closer. Another break of serve in the seventh game left him to serve for victory, which he required no second invitation to secure.

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