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Carlos Alcaraz outduels Alexander Zverev for first French Open crown

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain poses after winning the 2024 French Open men's singles final against Alexander Zverev of Germany on Sunday at Roland Garros in Paris. Photo by Teresa Suarez/EPA-EFE

June 9 (UPI) -- Carlos Alcaraz summoned composure and embraced deception amid clay-court chaos, outlasting Alexander Zverev over four hours and 19 minutes to capture his first French Open title Sunday in Paris.

With the victory, the 21-year-old became the youngest man to claim Grand Slam singles titles on all three tennis surfaces -- clay, grass and hard court. The 2022 U.S. Open and Wimbledon 2023 champion also claimed $2.6 million for his efforts.

"The last month we were struggling a lot with an [arm] injury and coming back," Alcaraz said at the trophy presentation at Roland Garros. "I didn't feel well in Madrid. We had a lot of doubts coming here without practicing too much.

"I'm really grateful to have the team that I have. I know everyone in my team is giving their heart just to make me grow up as a player and a person."

Alcaraz, known as one of the world's fastest players, used that speed, creative strategy and pure shot-making ability to overcome his big-serving foe 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 on Court Philippe-Chatrier.

Carlos Alcaraz, 21, is now the youngest men's player to win Grand Slam singles titles on all three tennis surfaces -- clay, grass and hard court. Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI
Carlos Alcaraz, 21, is now the youngest men's player to win Grand Slam singles titles on all three tennis surfaces -- clay, grass and hard court. Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI

"It's an amazing career already," Zverev said of Alcaraz. "[He's] already a Hall of Famer and achieved so much and is only 21 years old. It's not the last time he is going to win this."

Alcaraz entered the match with a 4-5 record against his German foe. The men's singles finale was predictively tight, but clutch play by Alcaraz and late mistakes from Zverev proved pivotal as both players fatigued.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain converted 9 of 16 break point opportunities in the 2024 French Open men's singles final Sunday in Paris. Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI
Carlos Alcaraz of Spain converted 9 of 16 break point opportunities in the 2024 French Open men's singles final Sunday in Paris. Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI

Alcaraz, the No. 3 player in the world, converted 9 of 16 break point opportunities. He also totaled 52 winners and 45 forced errors. Zverev edged Alcaraz 8-3 in aces, but converted just 6 of 23 break point chances. He totaled 38 winners and 60 forced errors.

Alcaraz and Zverev exchanged break points to start the match. Alcaraz went on to break the German two more times, including for set point, triggering early control.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain will move to No. 2 on Monday in the ATP Tour singles rankings. Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI
Carlos Alcaraz of Spain will move to No. 2 on Monday in the ATP Tour singles rankings. Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI

The Spaniard earned a 2-1 lead in the second set and appeared destined for his first clay crown, but Zverev quickly rallied. He leaned on his overpowering serves to claim the final five games of the set, breaking Alcaraz's serve twice during that rally and tying the match.

Alcaraz picked up his energy in the third set, switching up the tempo of his shots and using different angles on returns, often fooling Zverev and prompting errant swats. He broke Zverev in the sixth game of the set and held in the seventh for a 5-2 edge.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain logged 52 winners in his five-set victory over Alexander Zverev of Sunday in Paris. Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI
Carlos Alcaraz of Spain logged 52 winners in his five-set victory over Alexander Zverev of Sunday in Paris. Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI

But Zverev answered once again, firing five aces and breaking Alcaraz's next two serves on his way to set point.

Alcaraz, who needed a medical timeout in the fourth set to address an upper-left leg issue, broke Zverev's serve three times in that set to steal back momentum. Zverev totaled two double faults, nine forced errors and a dozen unforced errors in the set. He misfired several open-court looks and grew increasingly flustered.

Carlos Alcaraz (pictured) of Spain outdueled Alexander Zverev of Germany 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 in the 2024 French Open men's singles final Sunday in Paris. Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI
Carlos Alcaraz (pictured) of Spain outdueled Alexander Zverev of Germany 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 in the 2024 French Open men's singles final Sunday in Paris. Photo by Maya Vidon-White/UPI

Zverev started final set with a hold, as did Alcaraz. Errors then started the pile up for the German, who was broken in the third game. Alcaraz also went on to break his final serve with a sideline winner, resulting in a 5-2 set edge. He earned championship point after Zverev hit his last return halfway up the net.

Alcaraz will rise to No. 2 -- behind No. 1 Jannik Sinner of Italy -- in the new edition of ATP Tour singles rankings, which will be released Monday. Zverev will stay at No. 4.