Carlos Alcaraz outlasts Alexander Zverev to win French Open

Carlos Alcaraz came back to defeat Alexander Zverev 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 on Sunday and earn the French Open for his third Grand Slam title.

Alcaraz is a 21-year-old from Spain who grew up watching countryman Rafael Nadal win trophy after trophy at Roland Garros — a record 14 in all — and now has eclipsed Nadal as the youngest man to collect major championships on three surfaces. Nadal was about 1½ years older when he did it.

“Now,” Alcaraz told his parents, who were at Court Philippe Chatrier on Sunday, “I am lifting this trophy in front of you.”

Sunday’s triumph — in which he trailed two sets to one, just as he had in the semifinals versus Jannik Sinner on Friday — allowed Alcaraz to add the clay-court championship at Roland Garros to his triumphs on hard courts at the US Open in 2022 and on grass at Wimbledon in 2023.

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Alcaraz is now 3-0 in Grand Slam finals.

“You’re already a Hall of Famer and you already achieved so much,” Zverev, who dropped to 0-2 in major title matches, said to Alcaraz following the match. “Not the last time you’re going to win this.”

Zverev, a 27-year-old from Germany, was the runner-up at the 2020 US Open after blowing a two-set lead versus Dominic Thiem.

This time, Zverev lost after reeling off the last five games of the third set to surge in front. Alcaraz’s level dipped during that stretch and he seemed distracted by a complaint over the condition of the clay at Court Philippe Chatrier, telling chair umpire Renaud Lichtenstein it was “unbelievable.”

But Alcaraz reset himself and surged to the finish, taking 12 of the last 15 games while being treated by a trainer at changeovers for an issue with his left leg.

No. 3 Alcaraz and No. 4 Zverev were making their first appearance in a French Open final. Indeed, this was the first men’s title match at Roland Garros since 2004 without Nadal, Novak Djokovic or Roger Federer.

Nadal lost to Zverev in the first round two weeks ago; Djokovic, a three-time champion, withdrew before the quarterfinals with a knee injury that required surgery; Federer is retired.

There were some jitters at the outset. Zverev started the proceedings with a pair of double faults — walking to the sideline to change rackets after the second, as though the equipment was the culprit — and eventually got broken. Alcaraz lost serve immediately, too, framing a forehand that sent the ball into the stands — which he would do on a handful of occasions — and double-faulting, trying a so-so drop shot that led to an easy winner for Zverev, then missing a backhand.

A lot of the 4-hour, 19-minute match was patchy, and littered with unforced errors.

Alcaraz managed to come out strong in the fourth set, grabbing 16 of the first 21 points to move out to a 4-0 edge, including one brilliant, sliding, down-the-line forehand passing winner that he celebrated by thrusting his right index finger overhead in a “No. 1” sign, then throwing an uppercut while screaming, “Vamos!”

No, he is not ranked No. 1 at the moment — Sinner makes his debut at the top spot Monday — but he has been before, and although a “2” will be beside Alcaraz’s name next week, there is little doubt that he is as good as it gets in men’s tennis right now.

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