• Friday, June 21, 2024
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Who is Carlos Alcaraz: From five-set thriller win over world number one to first French Grand Slam?

Carlos Alcaraz

Carlos Alcaraz claimed his first French Open title in a fiercely contested five-set final against Alexander Zverev, solidifying his status as one of tennis’s brightest stars.

Following in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal, Alcaraz, 21, expressed his honour at winning his first French Open title at Roland Garros on Sunday. The victory etched his name in history as the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on three different surfaces. He defeated Zverev 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2, showcasing his resilience and adaptability on clay.

Despite a rocky start, Alcaraz demonstrated the confidence and consistency that had won him previous majors at the US Open in 2022 and Wimbledon in 2023. This triumph made him the youngest player to achieve Grand Slam titles on all three surfaces: clay, grass, and hard courts.

Alcaraz who began his career as a professional tennis player in 2018 at the age of 15 first visited Roland Garros at age 12, dreaming of winning both the French Open and Wimbledon. His passion for clay, nurtured in his hometown of Murcia, culminated in this historic victory. Upon winning, he celebrated by falling onto his back, mirroring the iconic celebrations of his idol, Rafael Nadal.

“I used to watch the tournament on television, and now I’m lifting the title,” said Alcaraz, who received the trophy from six-time champion Bjorn Borg.

Alexander Zverev, the fourth seed from Germany, posed a formidable challenge, riding a 12-match winning streak on clay. Yet, his quest for a maiden Grand Slam title was thwarted, extending his wait despite a strong performance.

Entering the court as a two-time Grand Slam champion, Alcaraz felt the weight of his childhood dreams. As a boy, he raced home from school in Murcia to watch Nadal dominate Roland Garros. Following the match, Alcaraz thanked his team and family for their unwavering support, particularly through recent injury struggles. “I’m grateful to have the team that I have. I call this a team, but it’s a family,” he said, highlighting the personal significance of this victory.

Alcaraz’s ascent continues as he joins the ranks of Spanish legends who have triumphed in Paris. In a thrilling final, he battled back from two sets to one down to defeat Zverev in four hours and 19 minutes. Zverev, despite his powerful serve and renewed confidence, could not outlast Alcaraz’s tenacity.

Alcaraz’s victory improved his remarkable five-set match record to 12-1, demonstrating his resilience under pressure. Closing in on a first Grand Slam title, Zverev gave Alcaraz a narrow window, which he exploited with a stunning forehand winner that turned the match in his favour.

Dream Come True
For Carlos Alcaraz, winning the French Open was a realisation of a childhood dream. “It’s a dream come true,” Alcaraz told France Television moments after the trophy ceremony.

“After school, I ran to watch the tournament, watching Rafa Nadal. I always dreamt of being there myself, all the Spanish players gave me this dream. It’s so special. Nadal won 14 times here, he lost only three matches, all of which are incredible. To be on the list myself after Rafa’s name is very important for me. It’s an honour.”

Alcaraz is the youngest player to win the French Open since Rafael Nadal. His breakthrough came two years ago when he defeated his ‘idol’ Nadal and Novak Djokovic as an 18-year-old in Madrid. Despite a challenging run-up to the tournament, including just one title since Wimbledon and limited play on clay due to a right forearm injury, Alcaraz’s determination saw him through.

Emotional Tribute to Parents
After lifting the trophy, Alcaraz paid a touching tribute to his parents in an emotional victory speech. “I want to talk a little bit about my family as well. I’m glad to have part of my family here,” Alcaraz said. “My dad, my mum, brothers, a lot of family over there. For me, it’s amazing to have you here supporting me.” He expressed gratitude for their support throughout his journey from watching the tournament on TV to lifting the trophy in front of them.

Rafael Nadal’s Message
Rafael Nadal, popularly called the ‘King of Clay,’ hailed Alcaraz as the ‘Prince of Clay’ after his victory. Delighted to see his fellow countryman lift the French Open Grand Slam, Nadal acknowledged Alcaraz’s potential to follow in his footsteps. “Congratulations Carlos Alcaraz for this immense victory!!!! Big!!!! Very happy for your successes!!!” Nadal tweeted.

Alcaraz’s victory over Zverev marks his third major trophy, and he has surpassed Nadal to become the youngest man in the Open Era to win Grand Slam titles on clay, grass, and hard courts.

As Alcaraz continues to ascend, he honours the legacy of Spanish tennis legends while inspiring future generations. His victory at Roland Garros is a testament to his resilience and determination, fulfilling a dream that began in his childhood.