2024 Roland Garros Men’s Final Alexander Zverev vs Carlos Alcaraz

The story of the 2024 French Open final begins in the 2022 edition.
It’s the quarterfinals which features an up-and-coming young Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, against ATP veteran Alexander “Sascha” Zverev. Both men have had high expectations on their careers.

For Zverev, his rise to glory came in 2017, rising to world no. 3 and winning the ATP Finals in 2018. In 2020, Zverev advanced to the US Open Final and led two sets to none then was up a break in the decisive set. But then, his hopes of a grand slam title vanished in the match tiebreak.

For Alcaraz, his rise to fame came in the clay courted Madrid Open a few weeks prior to Roland Garros. Alcaraz upset “King of Clay” icon Rafael Nadal, all time grand slam leader Novak Djokovic to make the championship match. His opponent was Sascha Zverev. The match was no contest, Alcaraz won convincingly, only dropping four games the entire match to win his first Masters title.

Which brings us to the quarterfinals of Roland Garros of 2022, Zverev and Alcaraz clashing on clay for the second time. After winning the first two sets, Zverev stood one set away from advancing to the semifinals. But then Alcaraz rallied, winning the third set, to send the match to a fourth set. The fourth set would head to the tiebreaker, where Zverev by the thinnest of margins, won the tiebreaker 8-6, to win the match in four sets. Zverev’s semifinal opponent was the “King of Clay”, Rafael Nadal. Nadal owned a record of 110-3 all time at the French Open, if Zverev’s dream of winning a grand slam were to come through at Roland Garros, he would have to beat the “King of Clay”. The match proved to be a hard-fought battle. 3 hours and 13 minutes of brilliance only had the match in a second set tiebreaker before devastation. Zverev rolled his ankle, and was forced to forfeit from the match, leaving on a wheelchair. Nadal would win his record setting 112th match in the championship against Casper Ruud to up his record at Roland Garros to 112-3. Forced to go through surgery, Zverev would not be seen on court the rest of the year.

Meanwhile, Alcaraz’s stardom would only grow. That summer’s US Open saw the teenaged Spaniard win his maiden Grand Slam title and claim the world number one ranking. The next season saw Alcaraz again breakthrough new ground by winning Wimbledon, upending Novak Djokovic in 5 sets in a massive upset. Although Alcaraz carries an all-court style that is entertaining and successful, he has had injury obstacles. A right forearm injury forced Alcaraz to have a clay court season where he withdrew from three of four tournaments and lost in the 3rd round in his lone clay court appearance.

For Zverev, the road to recovery featured a slow rise to his previous heights. In 2023, Zverev returned to the French Open semifinals a year after his injury where he lost in straight sets to Casper Ruud. This year, Zverev’s comeback saw another grand slam semifinal this time in the Australian Open, although he beat Alcaraz in 4 sets early on in the tournament, his hopes of his first Grand Slam collapsed when Daniil Medvedev rallied from two sets down to beat Zverev. But the clay season showcased the revival of Alexander Zverev as one of the best on clay. His first masters title on clay came in Rome with a win over Nicholas Jarry. Which set the stage for Roland Garros.

The first-round draw saw a blockbuster, rematch two years in the making, Zverev drew a first-round opponent of none other than Rafael Nadal. With a raucous crowd in support of their iconic hero in Nadal, Zverev withstood the emotions and aggressive fight from Nadal to come away with a hard fought (6-3) (7-6) (6-3) win. The going would continue to toughen for Zverev. The third round saw Zverev rally down two breaks in the 5th set to snatch a win from Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor. The five-set encounter would only continue in the fourth round, when Dane Holger Rune took a two sets to one advantage over Zverev. But again, the German, Zverev won a fourth set tiebreaker and cruised to bounce Rune in the deciding set 6-2. Zverev would win his quarterfinal match against Alex De Minaur, to advance to another French Open semifinal.

Carlos Alcaraz had less of a difficult time to make his 2nd ever French Open semifinal. After a loss the year prior to eventual champion Novak Djokovic, Alcaraz had to overcome a shaky clay court season to win his third grand slam title. His quest for the semifinals saw Carlitos drop only one set. His semifinal opponent was Jannik Sinner, an all too familiar foe. Their ninth meeting all time with the series tied four matches apiece was known for their 2022 US Open match where Alcaraz saved a match point in route to his first Grand Slam title. The second Major match between Alcaraz and Sinner saw the Italian take a two sets to one lead. But Alcaraz, broke Sinner in the fourth set to even the match, and after a quick break in the fifth, Carlitos never looked back and won the match (2-6) (6-3) (3-6) (6-4) (6-3). Alcaraz advanced to his first Roland Garros Final.

Zverev in the semifinal faced the man who knocked him out of the tournament last year, Casper Ruud. The Norwegian seemed to pick up where he left off, winning the first set convincingly, (6-2). When Ruud began to have abdominal difficulties, Zverev capitalized. The German put his pedal on the accelerator and advanced to his first French Open final with a (2-6) (6-2) (6-4) (6-2) win. The redemption story on the door of being completed.

The Final: Two men clashing in their first major title match on the clay of Roland Garros. One man hopes to build on his already accoladed tennis resume with a third grand slam title, while the seasoned veteran hopes to overcome his unfulfilled dreams of a grand slam championship that has constantly eluded him. Zverev leads the all-time series 5-4 against Alcaraz which includes the 2022 victory in the quarterfinals and a win in the Australian Open this year also in four sets. Alcaraz does have the 2022 Madrid Title match against Zverev with additional notable wins in the US Open last year and most recently a win at Indian Wells this year.

Alcaraz, who just turned 21 this year, is looking to win a major on all three surfaces, winning on hard court in the US 2022 and on grass in Wimbledon in 2023. Alcaraz has never lost a major final. Zverev’s only slam final came in a heartbreaker in 2020 against Dominic Thiem. Zverev won the first two sets of the match before Thiem sent the match to a fifth set. In the fifth, Zverev served for the match before Thiem rallied to force a match tiebreak. In the tiebreak, Thiem escaped 8-6. Zverev had yet to reach a slam final since then.

This match is as even as you can get. Alcaraz has the swagger and the experience to win a match against anyone anywhere. The Spaniard beat Sasha in their lone title match which happened to be on clay in 2022. However, Zverev won the only French Open encounter, and beat Alcaraz in the Australian Open earlier this year.

This match will hinge on endurance. Alcaraz after only dropping one set the entire tournament, is recovering from a challenging five set encounter against Jannik Sinner. Zverev has dealt with more wear and tear throughout the tournament, with two five set victories early in the tournament.

Look for Alcaraz to continue to play his aggressive style that includes going for high risk high reward shots, while Zverev looks to rely on his elite serve and play more to his backhand.

Pick: Alcaraz in 5 (4-6) (6-3) (6-7) (7-5) (6-4)

This match has the makings of a five-set encounter. Both players match up well, but Alcaraz’s experience in big matches can pay massive dividends in high pressure matches. Sasha has made an incredible effort to return to a grand slam final, his opponent’s pedigree seems to be daunting, but if any comeback story has a conclusion, a win against Alcaraz would be the textbook bookend to the comeback story. One thing is a guarantee, at the end of Sunday, Roland Garros will crown a new champion in 2024.


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