Alcaraz grinds down Zverev to win maiden French Open title

PARIS   -   Carlos Alcaraz outlasted German Alexander Zverev to win a maiden French Open and become the youngest man to capture Grand Slam titles on all three surfaces with a 6-3 2-6 5-7 6-1 6-2 victory in a nail-biting final on Sunday.

The contest may not have been a classic, but the Spaniard showed he belonged in the big league as he added a third Grand Slam title to his 2022 U.S. Open and 2023 Wimbledon triumphs. While the 21-year-old has won all of his three major finals, Sunday’s defeat prolonged Zverev’s frustration at Grand Slams, with the German still chasing a first title despite reaching the last four eight times.

In the first men’s Roland Garros final not featuring any member of the Big Three - Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer - in two decades, Alcaraz and Zverev failed to impress, their lack of consistency making for a disappointing display. Alcaraz often looked like he had got the upper hand, only to let it slip several times but he ultimately rose to the occasion against an increasingly frustrated Zverev.

The fourth seed has now lost both his Grand Slam finals, after losing the U.S. Open decider four years ago when he was two points away from victory against Dominic Thiem. Alcaraz, who has suffered with bouts of nerves at Roland Garros, where his compatriot Nadal won a record 14 titles, kept his composure despite some blips.

On a sun-kissed court Philippe Chatrier, Alcaraz slapped a forehand winner down the line to snatch the early break, only for Zverev to level for 1-1. Alcaraz broke to love then held to move 4-2 ahead before Zverev staved off a break point, but the Spaniard was a cut above and he bagged the set on his opponent’s serve with a crosscourt forehand winner.

Alcaraz needed more than 10 minutes to win the first game of the second set after six deuces. The 21-year-old’s unforced error rate spiked and Zverev broke for 3-2 and, having put his frustration behind him, won three games in a row to level the contest.

Alcaraz broke in the third set but remained inconsistent and serving for the set, the Spaniard made yet another string of errors that allowed Zverev back in the game. The German seized the opportunity to break twice to go 6-5 up and serve it out to take the lead in the contest.

In a see-saw encounter, Alcaraz took the early advantage in the fourth set, breaking for a 2-0 lead with an eye-catching passing shot and then again for 4-0 with a splendid drop shot. Yet his level dropped again right after, allowing Zverev to pull a break back before Alcaraz called the trainer on to have his left thigh massaged.

The Spaniard still managed to wrap up the set to force a decider and a woeful third game by Zverev gave him the early break. Alcaraz then raised his level significantly to save four break points in the following game and increase his lead to 3-1. He broke once more before serving it out and clinching the title on his first match point.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt