The Scotsman

History-maker Alcaraz beats Zverev in French Open final

- Andy Sims

Carlos Alcaraz made history and gained a measure of Spanish revenge by beating Alexander Zverev in five sets to win a first French Open title

The 21-year-old filled a rafael Nadal-sized void at Roland Garros with a marathon 6-3 2-6 5-7 6-1 6-2 victory in four hours and 19 minutes.

Fourth seed Zverev had sent old warrior Nadal out on his shield for probably the last time in the first round.

But young pretender Alcaraz vanquished the German to join fellow Spaniard Nadal as the only men to lift the Roland Garros trophy aged under 22.

Alcaraz is also the youngest man to win a grand-slam title on all three surfaces, adding the Paris clay to his hard-court Us open success and last year’ s win on the Wimbledon grass.

He boasts a perfect record in major finals, while forzve rev it is two defeats from two following his loss to Dominic Thiem at the US Open four years ago.

“I used to watch this tournament on the TV and now I’m holding the trophy,” said an elated Alcaraz afterwards.

Al car az was the clear aggressor as the first set wore on and he took it in 43 minutes. But the Zverev forehand began firing and he broke for 3-2 in the second set after Alcaraz’s mistimed return flew into the crowd. A sizzling pass from Zverev sent a cloud of dust exploding off the court as he brought up a double break on his way to levelling the match.

Alcaraz found his range again early in the third and a superb volley brought up three break points – his first on the Zve rev serve all set–and he dispatched the first to lead 4-2.

But Alcaraz was suddenly missing more often than his opponent and Zverev reeled off five games, saving a break point at 6-5, to move ahead.

But having finally got a ser- vice hold on the board and returning from so far back he was almost sitting on the lap of Bjorn Borg in the front row of the presidenti­al box, Alcaraz broke with a vicious forehand down the line.

Alcaraz needed treatment on his left thigh but held out to take the match to a deciding set. A tired service game from Zverev, who has spent almost 24 hours on court this fortnight, gave Alcaraz the early advantage and the crowd were on their feet when an astonishin­g flicked backhand cross court winner helped secure another break.

Four minutes later the man from Murcia was lying on his back, Nadal style, celebratin­g a victory he has always seemed destined for.

Meanwhile, Iga Swiatek has played down her chances of adding a first Wimbledon title to her latest French Open crown.

The world No 1 secured her third straight Roland Garros triumph, and a fourth in five years, with a 6-2 6-1 win over Jasmine Paolini on Saturday.

But the 23-year-old Queen of Clay has yet to master the grass and was knocked out in the quarter-final sat Wimbledonl­ast year bye lin asvi to lin a. Swiatek will begin her preparatio­ns at the Berlin Open on June 17. She said :“i think to play some matches before Wimbledon is good, but on the other hand, I played basically almost every match in Stuttgart, Madrid, Rome and here, and so we need to take care of my physicalit­y, as well. So we’ll see what the plans are. But I think the biggest progress I can make on grass right now is using my serves that was better, but also I don’t expect a lot.”

 ?? ?? Carlos Alcaraz kisses the trophy after his French Open success
Carlos Alcaraz kisses the trophy after his French Open success

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