July 24, 2024
Carlos Alcaraz

Carlos Alcaraz beat Zverev in a thrilling final over five sets at Roland Garros.
Carlos Alcaraz has become the youngest player in men’s tennis history to win three grand slams on different surfaces, while Alexander Zverev suffered another collapse in a major final. Alcaraz came back from a two-sets-to-one deficit to beat Zverev 6-3 2-6 5-7 6-1 6-2 in a pulsating final that lasted over four hours and 19 minutes.

Carlos Alcaraz now has three grand slam titles – US Open in 2022, Wimbledon in 2023 and French Open in 2024 – and is a perfect 3-0 in slam finals. The 21-year-old has eclipsed Rafa Nadal as the youngest man ever to win majors on three different surfaces, after his great predecessor achieved the feat when he was about 18 months older.

Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz (L) won the French Open final after Alexander Zverev’s bizarre behaviour (centre) in the quarter-finals against Alex de Minaur. Image: Getty/Eurosport

“Probably this is the moment I’m really proud about, because of everything I’ve done the last month just to be ready for this tournament,” Alcaraz said. “It has been really difficult for me, honestly.”

For Zverev it marks another agonising near-miss in a grand slam final. The German has only ever made two major finals and blew a two-set lead when he lost to Dominic Thiem in the US Open final in 2020.

Tennis fans think Alexander Zverev got hit by karma
However the final on Sunday didn’t come without controversy, after Zverev was dudded by a crucial line call in the fifth set. With Alcaraz serving at 2-1, the Spaniard served a double fault that would have made it 2-2, but the chair umpire overruled the initial call of ‘out’ and said the second serve had landed on the line.

Alcaraz got to hit a first serve again and ended up winning the game to take a 3-1 lead, but replays showed the chair umpire was wrong and the serve in question was indeed out. Zverev was left fuming at the umpire and didn’t win another game in the match.

But tennis fans couldn’t really bring themselves to feel sorry for Zverev, who hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory during the French Open. The 27-year-old was accused of ‘cheating’ against Alex de Minaur in the quarter-finals when he appeared to lie and hoodwink the umpire that he’d won the coin toss.

Zverev was asked to call between ‘ball’ and ‘racquet’ (the images on either side of the coin) and clearly said ‘ball’. The coin landed on the ‘racquet’ side and the umpire told de Minaur he’d won the toss, but in bizarre scenes Zverev claimed he called ‘racquet’ and the umpire believed him. The result of the coin toss could hardly be blamed for de Minaur’s straight-sets loss, but fans were rather unimpressed by Zverev’s behaviour.

The German also played the tournament under a cloud of domestic violence allegations, which resulted in him paying ex-girlfriend (and the mother of his child) Brenda Patea $328,000 in an out-of-court settlement just after his win over Casper Ruud in the semis. Lawyers for Zverev, who was not required to appear in court during the proceeding, issued a statement saying there was no finding of admission or guilt.

Tennis fans were happy to point out that Zverev might have been hit by some ‘karma’ as he fell short of grand slam glory once again. The 27-year-old win gold at the Olympics in 2021 but appears destined never to win a grand slam. American journalist Ben Rothenberg, who questioned why Zverev was allowed to play at the French Open during the court case, wrote on social media: “Never should have come down to that, but, phew.”

Carlos Alcaraz primed to long run at top of men’s tennis
At the post-match ceremony, Zverev looked at the new champ and marvelled: “It’s incredible. You won three different ones, you’re already a Hall-of-Famer, you’ve achieved so much already and you’re only 21.”

With Roger Federer already retired, Nadal expected to follow suit this year and Novak Djokovic hitting a rough patch of form and injures, Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner are poised to rule men’s tennis for years to come. Alcaraz has some way to go to match Nadal’s record of 14 French Open titles or Djokovic’s overall record of 24 grand slams, and he’s not even thinking that far ahead yet.

Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev with Bjorn Borg after the French Open final. Image: Getty

“Both things are out of the ordinary,” he admitted. “You have to be an alien to get it. What Rafa did with 14 is practically impossible. The 24 grand slams I hope I can but it is almost impossible. Both things are out of the ordinary…

“Before facing this final, he (coach Juan Carlos Ferrero) told me, you’re going to fight for your third grand slam title, with everything you have been through, and you know the difficult part of winning a grand slam, and Djokovic has 24. So it is unbelievable. Right now I can’t think about it.”

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