Carlos Alcaraz whistles past Alexander Zverev in classic French Open opera

Alcaraz defeated Zverev in five sets to win at Roland Garros.
2024 French Open final
2024 French Open final / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

The 2024 French Open men's final was a boxing match wrapped up in an opera of a tennis match. Each player took turns being in control, but neither could fully dominate for long stretches. A Carlos Alcaraz forehand on one point was followed by an Alexander Zverev bombastic backhand the next.

Alcaraz probably should have won the match in four sets. After controlling the first set, Zverev came back to sweep the second. In the third, Alcaraz led 5-3 only to have Zverev break Alcaraz's serve twice and win the final four games to take the set 7-5. A lesser player might have felt mentally defeated, but instead, Alcaraz rebounded to dominate the fourth set 6-1.

By the end of the fourth set, both players seemed exhausted. Excellent shots were still being made, but each player was getting to fewer balls. Midway through the set, the players - and tennis fans everywhere - had to know the match was headed to an inevitable fifth set. The question about who would win had less to do with who was the better skilled, but which player would have enough stamina to keep their form.

Carlos Alcaraz won the third Grand Slam of his career by taking the French Open

Early in the match, Alcaraz was able to dictate play when Zverev served. The German has a fantastic serve and he is extremely consistent in landing first serves. None of this mattered as Alcaraz broke Zverev three times in the opening set alone. Zverev was landing over 75 percent of his first serves but winning less than 60 percent of them.

The German was not playing horribly, though. He just needed to wait - and hope - that Alcaraz would drop in form. This is how the first four sets went, though. Zverev would pick up his play and then Alcaraz. Each would run off consecutive games and then the other player would. Each player got momentum until the other player punched back and regained control.

The opera of the first four sets could not be fully maintained for the fifth and final act, though. In the third game and with the set 1-1, Zverev missed two easy shots on the first two points of his serve. This led to Alcaraz breaking the German to take a 2-1 lead and only needed to keep holding to earn his third Grand Slam victory, his first at the French Open.

The game after the break of Zverev did make for great theater, however. Zverev, in fact, might have felt a bit cheated. On break point, Alcaraz appeared to double fault and the ball was called out. The chair umpire overruled the call, though. Zverev protested but to no avail. Hawk-eye review, which is not used at the French Open but NBC used in their broadcast, showed the ball to be out. The Spaniard ended up taking the game to lead 3-1.

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Alcaraz's service games stayed closer for much of the set, but Zverev could never do enough to earn a break. His only early break of service in the set cost him the match. Maybe he should have broken Alcaraz back except for the bad call by the umpire, but Alcaraz broke again so the argument was moot. Alcaraz won 6-3 2-6 5-7 6-1 6-2.

Carlos Alcaraz has now won Grand Slams on all three surfaces in tennis - hard, clay, and grass. The only major he has not won yet is the Australian Open. He will likely change that in 2025.

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