Roland Garros 2024 Men’s Final – Match Analysis

by Abhinav Hans
alcaraz roland garros win

3rd Grand Slam title for Alcaraz

The much anticipated men’s final between the young Spanish superstar Carlos Alcaraz and the in-form reigning Rome champion Alexander Zverev lived up to its hype on Sunday. Carlos Alcaraz won his 3rd grand slam title and became the youngest man ever and the 7th overall to win on all 3 tennis surfaces – clay, grass and hard, at the age of 21 years, 1 month! The record was earlier held by Rafael Nadal, who did it at the age of 22 years, 8 months (Australian Open 2009). Carlos Alcaraz in now 3/3 in grand slam finals.

The overall quality of tennis in this match was high, with each of them playing well in patches, during the 4 hrs 19 mins duration. Both players displayed great intensity and the momentum shifted numerous times. 

Match Statistics Zverev vs Alcaraz

MATCHSet 1Set 2Set 3Set 4Set 5
First Serve%73%60%74%62%83%62%72%60%59%71%75%52%
First Serve points won63%65%48%77%80%63%78%60%46%59%56%71%
Break Points Converted26% (6/23)56% (9/16)50% (1/2)60% (3/5)29% (2/7)0% (0/0)40% (2/5)50% (1/2)25% (1/4)60% (3/5)0% (0/5)50% (2/4)
Unforced Errors41561010414515128109

Both players had a cagey start to the match, getting broken in their first service games. As the set went on, Zverev was slower on the blocks, getting broken thrice overall in the first set. His most formidable weapon – the serve, did not show up in the first set. Though he served at 73% in the first set, he only won 48% of them, indicating he did not find the spots well enough. Alcaraz was able to produce more power on the forehand side in the first set and was generating controlled spin and loop on the backhand side. This resulted in Zverev making more errors and he could not find the rhythm that had propelled him to the final of Roland Garros.

However, the second set was completely different, with Zverev finding his rhythm in the baseline rallies and his serve. He was hardly missing his first serve – 83% (20/24) first serves in and won 80% (16/20) of them! He started to serve wide and became more aggressive on the first shot after serve. Zverev’s unforced error count also went down to 4 from 10. He produced 7 break point chances in this set, converting twice, while not facing a single break point on his serve. He was volleying well too, utilising his booming first serve well. On the other hand, Alcaraz’s level had dropped considerably, leaking 14 unforced errors.

Best set of the match

The third set had all the drama and was probably the best set of the match. The momentum kept oscillating. Zverev continued to serve well, holding to love in his first 2 service games. Alcaraz was under pressure in most of his service games, with Zverev finding more depth on the returns. However, the Spaniard was somehow able to hold on till 3-2 and then out of the blue, Zverev played one sub-par service game to get broken to love. This was just before winning 14 points in a row on serve.

At 4-2, Alcaraz came out of a long service game, saving break points to make it 5-2, at which point he looked destined to go up 2 sets to 1. However, the tide shifted completely from there on, with Zverev winning the next 5 games to close out the set 7-5! He kept serving well and found great depth off both wings to use his stronger reliable backhand to find winners. Alcaraz’s level had visibly dropped during this period, however, it was also due to the relentless pressure mounted by Zverev. Alcaraz’s unforced error count was 15 during this set.

Zverev lost focus

At the start of the 4th set, when Zverev should have prolonged the momentum shift, he lost focus and was broken twice to give Alcaraz a 4-0 lead. As confirmed by Zverev in his post-match conference, fatigue had also crept in by then, which was unusual for him. But he did spend 19.5 hrs on court before the final. Alcaraz while also not playing his best tennis at this time, did enough to flatten that forehand to find good angles and the drop shots kept coming with disguise, a strong indicator of how Alcaraz is feeling on court.

While Zverev was able to pull one break back, his serve accuracy and speed had surprisingly dropped considerably in this set, with only 59% first serves landing in (for reference -his average during the match was 73%). During this set at 4-1, Alcaraz also took a Medical Timeout for his left leg, which was already bandaged.

In the 5th set, both players started at a similar level till 1-1. However, Zverev played a wretched third game making a string of errors – two on the volley, one double fault and one backhand error and was broken to love. Alcaraz was then down 0-40 in his next service game, only to make a miraculous comeback, saving 4 break points in this game to make it 3-1. This was a turning point in the match with the crowd going wild.

There was a contentious call at 15-40 (2-1) in this game, where Alcaraz’s second serve was called out, but was overruled by the umpire after checking the mark. A later view of the hawk eye (post-match) showed that the ball was indeed out. Alcaraz then got another crucial break at 4-2 which included a stunning backhand slice winner which kept so low that it passed Zverev while clipping the net cord. Alcaraz then closed out the match on his serve with a deep cross-court forehand to extract the error from Zverev’s forehand side to win his first French Open.

Overall, the match was entertaining and the Spaniards forehand made the real difference. He hit 39 winners compared to Zverev’s 24, while making 60 total errors compared to 63 by Zverev. The backhand stats were comparable. Also, Alcaraz made exceptional use of the drop shots, drawing Zverev in from the back of the court and not letting him settle in from the baseline.

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