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DPA

Paris

Carlos Alcaraz fought to a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 over Alexander Zverev to claim a first French Open title on Sunday which made him the youngest player to win grand slams on three different surfaces.

Alcaraz, 21, dropped five games in a row in losing the second and third set but allowed his opponent only three more games as he regrouped to triumph in 4 hours 19 minutes in a not always top class final with several swings of momentum.

The third seed Alcaraz capped a strong Paris run in the wake of a forearm injury, having beaten new world number one Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals, also in five sets.

Prince of clay Alcaraz had previously won the hard court US Open in 2022 and the Wimbledon grass court grand slam last year, and was promptly named “Prince of Clay” by the French Open after his latest success.

He followed a proud Spanish title tradition on the Roland Garros clay as his 14th overall career title made him emulate his coach Juan Carlos Ferreiro, record 14-time winner and clay king Rafael Nadal, Sergi Bruguera, Carlos Moya and others.

Zverev falls short again Olympic champion Zverev, 27, beat a not fully fit Nadal in the first round and reached the final for the first time after semi-final exits the previous three years, including with a season-ending ankle injury in 2022 against Nadal.

But the fourth seed from Germany fell short of a maiden grand slam title again, having previously lost the 2020 US Open decider against Dominic Thiem from two sets up.

“I used to watch this tournament on the TV and now I’m holding the trophy,” Alcaraz said after receiving the Coupe des Mousquetaires from living legend Bjorn Borg.

“My team have been incredible the last month. We were struggling a lot with the injury. Coming here and not practising too much on the court.”

He added in the direction of Zverev: “Unbelievable the level you are playing and the work you are putting in every day. Everything you have been through the last years in this court. I’m pretty sure you will win Slams and this tournament very, very soon so keep going.”

Zverev said: “Congratulations Carlos. Third Grand Slam, 21-years-old, it’s incredible. You’ve won three different ones, you are already a hall-of-famer, you have won so much and you’re only 21. An incredible player and not the last time you are going to win this.

“Thank you for not only last the two weeks but the long journey we had since the injury I had on this same court,” he told his team.

“We were close today, not enough but hopefully one day we will be able to hold this trophy together.”

The match between the two Roland Garros final debutants got off to a nervous start, with Zverev double faulting on the first two points en route to dropping serve in the opening game, and Alcarez then also failing to hold serve.

But Alcaraz soon took control, broke Zverev at love for 3-2 and wrapped up the set with a superb forehand cross-court winner four games later.

Zverev fights back strong The second set started with a 10-minute game in which Alcaraz saved three break points. Zverev continued to battle, and was awarded with five unanswered games from 2-1 down to levelling the sets against a now rattled opponent with a hold at love.

Zverev did also not drop a point on serve on the next two occasions before Alcaraz broke out of nowhere at love to go 4-2 up and made it 5-2 after saving three break points.

However, the set was far from over because Zverev forced another momentum change, again claiming five games in a row to go 2-1 sets up as Alcaraz piled up the errors and lamented the court condition as well.

But, having been in the same situation 48 hours earlier against Sinner, Alcaraz was well-prepared and stormed to a double-break 4-0 lead, and, after a medical time-up for what appeared a left thigh problem, got over the line to force a deciding fifth set.

Alcaraz drew first blood there with a break for 2-1, and survived four break points in the next game. Zverev appealed in vain against a second serve ruled in by the umpire after originally been called out by the linesperson, with the Hawkeye technology not used at the tournament but shown on Eurosport confirming the ball on second break point was out.

Zverev had come from two breaks down in the fifth in the third round against Tallon Griekspoor but another break point came and went in the sixth game before he dropped serve at love to lift Alcaraz 5-2 up.

And there was no way back for the German as Alcaraz comfortably served out the match to win on first match point, forcing Zverev to a final error.

“Congratulations Carlos for this immense victory!!!! Big!!!! Very happy for your successes!!! Vamos!” Nadal said on X, formerly Twitter.

Paolini loses again

Earlier, Jasmine Paolini left the French Open empty-handed as she also lost her second final, in the women’s doubles with Sara Errani on Sunday, 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, against US Open champion Coco Gauff and Czech player Katerina Siniakova.

Paolini had lost her first Grand Slam singles final on Saturday, 6-2, 6-1 against world number one Iga Swiatek.

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10/06/2024
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