Carlos Alcaraz: Rising Clay-Court Champion with Victory over Zverev at Roland Garros 2024 Recap

Carlos Alcaraz, the 21-year-old tennis prodigy from Spain, claimed his maiden Roland Garros title in a breathtaking display of skill and composure.

In this recap, we delve into his journey to victory, showcasing how he overcame tense moments and emerged as the clay-court champion we always believed he could be.

Carlos Alcaraz: Rising Clay-Court Champion with Victory over Zverev at Roland Garros 2024 Recap
2024 Roland Garros Champion Carlos Alcaraz. Getty Images

Carlos Alcaraz was poised to win on Sunday, but he soon began to lose.

In the third set, the 21-year-old Spaniard was serving at 5-3 to lead Alexander Zverev by two sets to one. He had been hit by a blow from the German in the second set, but in the third he got off the mat, went deeper into his repertoire of tricks to appease the masses, and raced back to another lead. Then he staggered, as if suddenly and unexpectedly. Or, more accurately, he became terrified.

Alcaraz missed a couple of volleys because he was playing too casually. He started to crazily shank his forehand and soon appeared to lose all faith in his ground strokes. Twice he was broken. Instead of concentrating, he spent one changeover griping to the chair umpire about poor bounces and the absence of clay on the court. Alcaraz said in a rare and unreasonable outburst, “It’s unbelievable.”

Zverev was serving at 6-5 as Alcaraz hit another insane long backhand to fall behind 30-0. He was on the verge of losing the lead and perhaps even the opportunity to win his first Roland Garros championship.

Perhaps it was having Juan Carlos Ferrero, his mentor, close by. Perhaps that was the first time he realized he was genuinely behind in the score. Perhaps it was the knowledge that he would have to settle for this court and that the match would not be relocated to another one.

For whatever reason, Alcaraz immediately regained his composure after losing it. His forehand shanks were back to winning ways, and his swing was more composed. He also had improved balance and made better shot selections, especially with the moon balls he started using to push Zverev aside. Although Alcaraz was unable to save the set, he claimed that he had saved the title in that particular game.

Alcaraz told NBC’s Maria Taylor, “I had a lot of doubts at the end of the third set.” He significantly raised his level in the second and third sets, while I maintained my level. I was not as adept at handling my nerves as he was. “The third set’s final game helped me realize how I have to play.”

He had to play “with calm,” as a fellow Spanish champion at Roland Garros would have said. He had to score points without committing as many errors. When the chance presented itself, he had to take advantage of it by using his kick serve and body serve to net. He should have given Zverev fewer balls in his striking zone and increased the air under his backhand.

In summary, Alcaraz needs to employ everything that makes him a remarkable player, and puts him above the rest of his opponents. Most of all, he wanted to realize he was that unique athlete.

During the remaining two sets, Alcaraz accomplished all of those things, and in the process, he eventually dismissed Zverev. There were multiple close calls, one of which Hawk-Eye disagreed with about a critical out call on a Zverev serve. A few of the games were lengthy. There were a few more dubious decisions and uncertain times.

Alcaraz was in charge now, both of the rallies and of himself. Zverev turned to watch as he rifled a one-handed crosscourt backhand pass while sliding the opposite way. With a crosscourt reflex squash shot, he flipped one that left Zverev stunned.

Also Read: Coco Gauff and Katerina Siniakova Clinch First Grand Slam Doubles Title at Roland Garros 2024

Carlos Alcaraz: Rising Clay-Court Champion with Victory over Zverev at Roland Garros 2024 Recap
Alcaraz, who owns two of the four major titles, will be ranked No. 2 again on Monday.© Matt Fitzgerald

Most important, though, when it became tight in the fifth, Alcaraz made the crucial, proactive move. Serving at 3-2, he lost a long rally and was down break point. Perhaps sensing that he wasn’t quite secure from the baseline at that particular moment, he sprinted to the net in support of his serve instead, and he won a forehand volley to return to deuce.

Alcaraz was allowed to go home after the ultimate issue was resolved. On a third surface, he won his third Grand Slam title with scores of 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, and 6-2. Additionally, it raised his record to 11-1 in five-set contests.

Speaking about that achievement, Alcaraz said he tries to push the mental reset button whenever he enters a fifth set because he understands that here is the place where champions are created.

“I understand that you have to give your all and your heart when I’m performing a fifth set,” he remarked. “That’s when the best tennis players perform at their peak.”

I have to give it my all in the fifth set to prove to my opponent that I am fresh and that we are playing the first game of the match, as I have stated numerous times in my quest to become one of the top tennis players in the world.

There are two noteworthy statistics. Zverev’s second serve yielded 66 percent of the points won by Alcaraz, who broke the 6-foot-6 ace machine nine times.

In reference to his drop in the previous two sets, Zverev remarked, “On my serve I didn’t get the power from my legs anymore, which is weird.” “Because I don’t usually get tired.” I don’t typically get weary or cramp. However, once more, the intensity is different versus Carlos.

Alcaraz’s victory on Sunday was comparable to his triumph over Jannik Sinner in the semifinals on Friday. Both times, he appeared poised to win the third set; both times, he blew the opportunity; and both times, he quickly moved past his disappointment to play his greatest tennis over the final two sets. Alcaraz has always experienced highs and lows during games, but this year in Paris, he showed signs of confidence when it was needed. He calmed down as the match got more intense.

Alcaraz remarked, “It’s unbelievable to be able to put my name on that amazing list and to know all the Spanish players who have won this tournament.” “I’ve dreamed of being in this position since I was five or six years old, when I first started playing tennis.”

Many of us thought Roland Garros would be Alcaraz’s arena of choice because of his innate talent with clay and his Spanish heritage. Rather, he took first place in the US Open and Wimbledon. In that way, he lived up to his initial potential throughout the last two weeks. Alcaraz seemed to be maturing into the player that he and we both knew he could be based on the way he composed himself in the semifinal and final and briskly outran his rivals in the fifth set.

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