Alcaraz overcomes Zverev's five sets challenge to clinch maiden French Open title

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz downs Jannik Sinner of Italy in five-set thriller to reach his first men's singles final at the French Open in Paris on Friday. Photo credit: Roland-Garros/X

Paris, June 9 (IANS) Carlos Alcaraz, the 21-year-old Spaniard overcame a five-set match challenge from Germany's Alexander Zverev 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 to secure maiden French Open title.

In the process, Alcaraz also became the youngest player to win all three Grand Slam titles.

Alcaraz, seeded third, demonstrated his remarkable resilience and skill throughout the four-hour, 19-minute battle on the Parisian clay. Despite coming into the tournament with concerns over a right arm injury and having not competed for three weeks, he showcased his tenacity by winning 12 of the final 15 games, securing his place among the sport's elite.

The match began with both players showing signs of nerves, each dropping their opening service games. However, Alcaraz quickly found his rhythm, breaking Zverev three times to take the first set 6-3. The German, playing in his second major final, adjusted his strategy in the second set, landing 83% of his first serves and winning 80% of those points, allowing him to level the match at one set apiece.

In the third set, Zverev appeared to take control, breaking Alcaraz's serve twice and securing the set 7-5. The momentum seemed to be firmly in Zverev's favor as he entered the fourth set with confidence. However, Alcaraz, known for his mental fortitude, raised his game to another level, dominating the fourth set 6-1 and forcing a decisive fifth set.

The final set was a testament to Alcaraz's ability to deliver under pressure. At a critical juncture with Alcaraz serving at 2-1, 15/40, a second serve was called out, but after the chair umpire checked the mark and ruled it in, Alcaraz held his nerve to consolidate the break. This pivotal moment shifted the momentum back in his favor, and he never looked back, eventually closing out the set 6-2 to clinch the championship.

Alcaraz's path to the final was anything but easy. Along the way, he defeated top players, including Jannik Sinner in a gripping semi-final. His victory in the final marked his third consecutive season with a Grand Slam title, following his triumphs on the hard courts of the 2022 US Open and the grass courts of Wimbledon in 2023.

With this win, Alcaraz now joins an illustrious group of Spaniards who have lifted the Coupe des Mousquetaires, including his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, who won the title in 2003. This victory also solidifies his position as a rising star in the tennis world, having already achieved 11 ATP Tour crowns and becoming the youngest World No. 1 in ATP Rankings history in 2022.

Reflecting on his victory, Alcaraz said, "It's incredible to win here at Roland Garros. Alexander played an amazing match, and it was a tough battle. I had to dig deep and stay focused, especially after losing the third set. This victory means a lot to me and my team, and I am excited for what the future holds."

Despite the loss, Zverev showed remarkable sportsmanship, acknowledging Alcaraz's resilience and skill. "Carlos played an incredible match today. It was a tough battle, and he deserved to win. I gave it my all, but he was just too good in the end," Zverev said.