Skip to content

Carlos Alcaraz V Alexander Zverev: French Open 2024 Men’s Singles Final – Live

Carlos Alcaraz reacts during his five-set battle with Alexander Zverev. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters

Carlos Alcaraz reacts during his five-set battle with Alexander Zverev. Photograph: Yves Herman/ReutersShow key events onlyPlease turn on JavaScript to use this feature

Live feedKey events

Show key events onlyPlease turn on JavaScript to use this feature

*Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 1-6 2-5 Alcaraz Forehand winner on to the line from Alcaraz, then one to the corner that Zverev can only hook out of court. BUT OH MY ABSOLUTE COMPLETE AND UTTER EVERLASTING DAYS! Sent to the backhand corner, Alcaraz composes a shot of total genius, sending a half-volley from behind him that zips cross-court and leaves Zverev, there for the simple putaway, a befuddled spectator. I’ve not a clue how you contrive that – at all, but at this point, having played for this long? Inspiring, mortifying work, and another forehand on to the line takes Alcaraz to within a game of realising a dream. He is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, any sport.

Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 1-6 2-4 Alcaraz* I might just be saying this because of this match and the Alcaraz-Sinner semi, but it feels like when the better men player each other over best-of-five, a five-setter is always likely because they’re well-matched and, good though they are, none of them are (yet?) good enough to play well enough for long enough to win easily. And here we go again, Zverev making 15-30 … but sent out wide, he can do nothing when an overhead is slammed towards the opposite corner. A gorgeous serve out wide-forehand clean-up combo-move follows for 40-30, but a backhand into the net and we’re again at deuce; this is so, so good. And Zverev again chases in after a drop, a terrific, dipping return forcing another leaping half-volley; it’s not good enough, and the German eventually earns break-point via overhead. Alcaraz, though, serve-volleys to make deuce – his ability to think strategically under pressure is wondrous – and a ninja’s forehand raises game-point … but he can’t take it, going long on the forehand! Zverev, though, bounds in to net a backhand, taking issue with Alcaraz appearing – to him – to stop play because he thought a ball was out. He didn’t, though though he did check the mark – and up advantage, a drop persuades Zverev to net! That’s another colossal hold, and the German is running out of road.

*Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 1-6 2-3 Alcaraz What?! Up 30-0, Zverev powers a forehand down the line, but running to his forehand corner, Alcaraz invents a squash shot that curls towards the other side of court and breaks the sideline! I’ve seen a lot of tennis but I don’t think I’ve ever quite seen that and though it’s soon 40-15, Alcaraz dominates the next point, again via forehand, and for the first time Zverev looks weary … all the more so when he gets down to despatch a volley and sends it wide, his new skill again not there for him at clutch. Then, at deuce, another drop hauls him to the net, he can’t find a winner, and Alcaraz has all the time he needs to lace a pass down the line; he has advantage, and with Zverev double-teapotting in bewilderment, it feels like effective match point. A backhand hammered cross-court on to the sideline, though, saves it, and up advantage, the same shot but played with greater margin for error, secures a crucial hold. Pressure back on Alcaraz!

Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 1-6 1-3 Alcaraz* Alcaraz sends a forehand long for 0-15, then wipes a drop into the net; I feel sick watching them. AND HAVE A LOOK! A forehand now sent wide, and Zverev has three break-back points, both men losing the run of themselves and how could they not? Alcaraz, though, steadies himself to hit consecutive forehands to the forehand side, the second a winner, but when a second serve is called out, the umpire shows Zverev it’s in – he’s not having it – and he must now face a first delivery. It’s a strange rule that, and it works for Alcaraz who sticks in the point long enough to benefit from a backhand error, before annihilating an inside-out forehand on to the sideline for a winner! This is an absolutely rrridiculous game of tennis, an absolutely rrridiculous game of anything, and Zverev misses multiple chances to secure advantage via putaway at the net, dead careful not to give it away, and eventually Alcaraz, having run from hither to yon and back again, misreads the speed, mistiming his leap to a ball that’s slower than expected. So, tired from the exertion, he sends a kicker out wide and follows it in, regaining deuce, unloads every fibre of his being into a surprise leaping backhand winner down the line, and the consolidation is, for the first time, within reach! AND THERE IT IS! Serve out wide, drop to the other sideline, and what a hold that is, from 0-40 down! The crowd go absolutely wild, and well they might!

*Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 1-6 1-2 Alcaraz NOW THEN! Zverev puts a volley long, then goodness me, another into the net, and is his relatively new skill failing him under the evils of the greatest pressure of his life? That second miss in particular was very poor indeed, a double follows, and Alcaraz has three break points having done almost nothing! Zverev will be feeling it slipping away – he knows the sensation and believe he despises it – but a big serve forces the long return for 15-40. But a long backhand hands over as free a break as you’ll see, Zverev’s banker-shot now failing him, and Alcaraz need only hold serve – four times! – to get his hands on the trophy! For him, though, there’ll be nerves too because having grown up in Spain, winning Roland-Garros will have been the dream. He’ll be feeling it.

Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 1-6 1-1 Alcaraz* A serve-forehand one-two makes 15-0, but then having down all the hard work, he goes long on the forehand. No matter, he soon makes 40-15, but after yet another sapping rally, he nets a forehand either hit tentatively or exhaustedly. He secures the game with a service-winner, but it’s worth noting that he’s not played much tennis lately, whereas Zverev recently noted, after his second five-setter on the spin, that lasting through them is easy when you train as hard as he does.

*Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 1-6 1-0 Alcaraz One of these is going feel total despair in roughly 50 minutes; imagine the exhaustion of a five-set final amounting to nowt. OK, nowt apart from a big cheque, but you can be certain neither man dreamt about that as a kid, nor flogs his body day after day with that goal in mind. Alcaraz takes more treatment at change of ends, then Zverev holds comfortably to 15, the only point ceded ceded via double. Check to you, Carlitos old mate.

Carlos Alcaraz wins the fourth set 6-1 to level with Alexander Zverev at two sets all!Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 1-6 Alcaraz With the court open, Alcaraz forces a forehand down the line but wide, then again varies pace and loop but this time Zverev is on to him, advancing to punish a backhand winner for 0-30. We wind up at 15-40, Zverev going wide and long … then just wide, and that brings us to deuce, Alcaraz caressing a drop … that clips the tape and drops on his side! No matter, Zverev tries a looper of his own – how did he come u with that one? – landing it in mid-court, Alcaraz lashing a forehand winner to the corner before raising set point via his first ace since game one of set three. And when he stretches to tickle a backhand around his arse and from behind him, it dips improbably over the net and Zverev can’t return! We have ourselves our decider and I’ve not a clue who’s going to win it, but what a contest this is! Sensational behaviour from both players.

Carlos Alcaraz plays a backhand. Photograph: Tim Goode/Getty Images*Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 1-5 Alcaraz At 15-all, Zverev tests out Alcaraz’s leg, yanking him in via drop, then putting away the response. A netted forehand, though, puts him under pressure, then a putaway picks out Alcaraz, who diddles him with a lob that he runs around but can’t return. But thoug a point to restore the double-break disappears with a long forehand, Zverev first surrenders advantage, then deuce, and a forehand into the net means Alcaraz will now serve for a decider. Every single person in the world not connected to Zverev hopes he makes it.

“This is absolutely excellent entertainment,” emails Brendan Murphy. “The contrast in styles is very intriguing and they’re both tremendous problem-solvers. I knew Alcaraz was good at working out how to adapt his game on the fly, but the way Zverev is finding answers is very impressive.”

Early doors, he was being criticised by our commentary team for having no Plan B, but he started taking more risks, going for his shots, and in the process started to play better. He’s less likely to chuck in moon-balls, as Alcaraz did trying to save the third set, but he’s done enough so far even if his best periods have coincided with his opponent missing loads.

*Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 1-4 Alcaraz At change of ends, Alcaraz has the trainer on to mess with his left leg … and he takes a medical timeout.

Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 1-4 Alcaraz* At 15-all, Alcaraz sends a forehand wide, then Zverev punishes a backhand down the line for two break points; he dashes in to flick a backhand cross-court, taking the first of them, and has momentum switched yet again?

*Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 0-4 Alcaraz It’s Zverev struggling to hold now, and at 30-all a double cedes a point for the double-break, missing his second serve by a way. And this is stupendous stuff from Alcaraz now, a drop securing a 4-0 lead, and this match is going to get the decider it and we deserve.

Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 0-3 Alcaraz* Real talk: neither of these is quite playing well enough for long enough, which is why this is so good. But at the same time, each of them is playing brilliantly when they really really need to, and Alcaraz consolidates via love-hold. We have, though, seen him spurn this kind of lead before…

Alcaraz celebrates a point. Photograph: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images*Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 0-2 Alcaraz Alcaraz makes 0-15 but Zverev does a fine job in the next rally, another minging affair that he finishes definitively; it’s ridiculous how fit these two are. But what’s that?! Alcaraz skids into a ridiculous get, Zverev opts not to chance the overhead, leaping for it but leaving it, secure in the knowledge that it’s going wide … except it isn’t! 15-30, then Zverev sends a forehand close to the sideline … and it’s out! The umpire checks the mark, he’s certain the ball was good, even when the evidence confirms to the contrary, and here come two break points! The first quickly vanishes via long return AND OH I SAY! OH I EXPLETIVE SAY! Alcaraz bangs a backhand cross as Zverev comes in and the volley is decent … but what a shot comes next, a curling beauty spirited down the line, outside the line, and on to the line! What a contest this is!

Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 0-1 Alcaraz* Alcaraz had to go five to come from behind to beat Sinner on Friday and will have to do likewise here. He’s just not been able to sustain his quality today – I wonder if he relaxed a little after dominating the first set so ruthlessly – while Zverev has, in the event, times his little runs of form better. Alcarzz, though, holds well to 15, and Zverev must now serve from the tricky end, into the breeze.

Alexander Zverev wins the third set 7-5 to lead Carlos Alcaraz by two sets to one!*Zverev 3-6 6-2 7-5 Alcaraz Between games, Alcaraz bitches about insufficient clay on the court and that it’s playing like hard; shouldn’t that be good for him? I’m certain Zverev will have enjoyed hearing it, and he serve-volleys confidently to make 15-0. He’s so much better at that than he was, and it gives him an option should he need it whereas previously all he could do was hope to play better. A poor backhand from Alcaraz soon cedes 0-30, but tremendous hitting from the back halves the deficit and keeps things horrifically, majestically tense … then again. I’m not sure how either player can even hold his racket, never mind use it to attack balls with lethal force … and goodness me look at that, a monstrous point and a monstrouser – monstrousest! – serve out wide on to the line to raise set point! But Alcaraz, always thinking, lifts up three consecutive moon-ball backhands to the baseline and eventually Zverev errs! AND NOW LOOK! A stupendous point from Alcaraz, a surprise slice zoning over the net and leaving Zverev at the net, lost in the supermarket and unable to decide what to do, a nondescript response allowing the wrong-footing pass. And goodness me what a match this is, another ludicrous pressure-serve restoring deuce and an overhead muscled down raising a second set point. Then preparing to serve, Zverev discards a ball with blood on it, perhaps his after he tested his insulin levels at change of ends; more tension. And more terrifying groundstrokes before Zverev finds a forehand that’s too good, and from 2-5 down, he rebounds to claim the set! This is scintillating stuff, and it’s not even close to finished!

Zverev 3-6 6-2 6-5 Alcaraz* Now it’s Alcaraz feeling it a mishit soaring wide for 0-15, on which point, did you know that Scottish people pronounce “soar”, “sore” and “saw” differently? I know! Anyroad, a lovely drop and it’s 15-all, but then Zverev tries one – I know! – and Alcaraz gets there in time to have a chuckle, make a cuppa, and have his way with it, only to lump long! The extent to which I’m hammering the exclamation-mark key is not lost on me, I assure you, but it’s gone absolutely feral here and another Alcarazian mishit means he’s facing two break points! AND ZVEREV ONLY NEEDS ONE! A brutal forehand down the line takes control of the rally, Alcaraz nets, and the German will soon serve for the third set!

*Zverev 3-6 6-2 5-5 Alcaraz Zverev quickly makes 30-0, Alcaraz then sends a backhand return long, and a munter of an ace down the T makes a fifth love-hold of the match; we’re back on serve and I’ve not a clue how this is going to shake out.

Zverev 3-6 6-2 4-5 Alcaraz* The new balls should help Alcaraz, but after he’s a little cautious on a forehand to the corner, he can’t control his volley when sent a decent response. And when Zverev finds a fine backhand return, the pressure amps up infinite further degrees; I’ve not the slightest clue how these lads hold it down, given I’m shaking just typing about it. And the situation tells on Zverev, a poor shot followed by a dreadful shot handing Alcaraz 30-all … but Alcaraz then sends a backhand long, and must now face yet another break-back point! AND HAVE AN ABSOLUTE LOOK! A backhand cross has Alcaraz diving, having come to the net, and he can’t get near it! Zverev was given the first two points of that game, but after two awful shots spurned the gifts, he responded by unloading the suitcase and again the tactic worked for him! It’s just impossible to predict who’ll falter when! Sport is hard!

*Zverev 3-6 6-2 3-5 Alcaraz An ace opens the game, but Alcaraz then sends Zverev to the corner then, as he restores himself to the centre, directs the ball back whence it came for 15-all. A return to the ankles, though, makes 15-30, a return into the net 30-all … but from there, Zverev closes out, securing the hold with a drop and insisting Alcaraz do likewise if he wants the 2-1 advantage.

Zverev 3-6 6-2 2-5 Alcaraz* Up 30-0, Alcaraz loses out at the net, botches a backhand, and can’t handle a big forehand; just when you think this match has gone in one direction, it’s schlepped in the other, and Zverev now has a point for the break-back! But when Alcaraz slices a backhand, it skids off the baseline to make itself unreturnable; Zverez looks extremely forlorn. But a double then hands over advantage – this match is now fluctuating during points, games and sets – quickly extinguished with big serve and overhead. No matter: a forehand goes wide and plenty, raising a third opportunity for the immediate break-back … but another long, knackering, expletive brilliant rally ends when Zverev chases in after a drop, only to find himself vulnerable at the net and Alcaraz duly violences a winner that restores deuce. And from there, the Spaniard cleans up; he’s a game away from a 2-1 lead, while Zverev has done well not to call for the sick-bag.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain plays a forehand. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images*Zverev 3-6 6-2 2-4 Alcaraz A short return from Alcaraz sees Zverev slip as he chases in; that’s the first point against his serve in 15. Then, faced with a second serve, Alcaraz steps in, takes control of the rally with a dangerous forehand, and though he needs three more to close it out, he dematerialises them with such joyous confidence you’re sure he’s back in the match. And shonuff he quickly makes 0-40 – Zverev will be sick if he’s broken, having played so well – but he is, a backhand into the body doing the job! In all sports, the very best have timing, and Alcaraz’s ability to suddenly find his best tennis after struggling for almost an hour, reminds us of the essential difference between these two very fine players.

Zverev 3-6 6-2 2-3 Alcaraz* And now we’re back with pictures and everything, Alcaraz hitting a line to make 15-all then yanking Zverev in whamming a backhand pass down the line. A fine drop follows, but just as a much-needed straightforward hold looks on the cards, Zverev forces deuce after winning a net-exchange. And from there, Alcaraz secures the game, a clever overhead making advantage before another, of weapons-grade, sets up the forehand winner down the line. Alcaraz leaps about, noising up the crowd to noise up himself, and he’ll feel like he’s back in the contest. This is a fantastic match now.

*Zverev 3-6 6-2 2-2 Alcaraz Another easy hold for Zverev.

Zverev 3-6 6-2 1-2 Alcaraz* Now Alcaraz holds.

*Zverev 3-6 6-2 1-1 Alcaraz Alcaraz can’t find any consistency at the moment, good shots followed by bad, and he’s soon down 40-0, sticking in the last rally before slicing into the net. Zverev is dictating the rallies with weight of shot now; my computer switches itself off but he holds.

Zverev 3-6 6-2 0-1 Alcaraz* So what changed in that second set? Well, Alcaraz dropped a little – I wonder if he was having too much fun out there? – but also Zverev started going for things and in the process started to play better. As I type, he somehow sticks a backhand on to the line to make 15-all, so of course Alcaraz responds with an ace … only to follow it with a double and make things interesting at 40-30. A lovely wrongfooting drop, though, earns Alcaraz’s first game in six, removing the pressure from his own soul and stapling it to Zverev’s.

Alexander Zverev wins the second set 6-2 to level the match at 1-1!*Zverev 3-6 6-2 Alcaraz At 15-0, a ball leaps up on Alcaraz and he whines to his corner, then, can only get racket on a service-winner down the T. An ace follows, then a simple putaway at the net after another gibongous serve left no returning options, and that’s five games on the spin for Zverev, who levels the match at 1-1! This match is on a rolling boil, and against the odds it’s the German currently dominating!

Zverev 3-6 5-2 Alcaraz* At 0-15, both men annihilate the cover off it, then Zverev tries to paint a drop, Alcaraz-style … with predictable results. An ace then makes 40-15, but a forehand mashed down the line keeps things tense, then another breaks the sideline; rather than hide his forehand, Zverev has found it, and we’re once again at deuce! Not for long! Alcaraz flaps a tepid drop into the tape to cede advantage … but finishes a fine point with an overhead and we’re back at deuce. And what’s this? A mishit return works out well for Zverev, helping him make advantage, a double follows, and after a little sit-down he’ll serve for the second set at 5-2! Who saw ths coming when he forlornly forsook the first?

*Zverev 3-6 4-2 Alcaraz Alcaraz marches forward to hammer a forehand into the corner that Zverev can’t return; 0-15. But though a terrific volley, coming in behind serve, levels us up – that might be a tactic worth trying – consecutive forehands to the corner restore Alcaraz’s advantage. However Zverev is feeling alright out there, hitting big serves and better forehands – this is a good contest now – and we wind up at deuce, whereupon we enjoy the point of the match, a delicious leaping half-volley from Alcaraz appearing to have won it, only for Zverev to lank and skid in, sending a pick-up across the face of the net for a sensational winner. And from there, the German secures another monumental hold – from the evil end – and this is exceedingly intense.

Alexander Zverev plays a backhand. Photograph: Tim Goode/Getty ImagesZverev 3-6 3-2 Alcaraz* Alcaraz spanks a smash into the top of the tape then goes long on the backhand, and suddenly Zverev’s hold for 3-6 1-1 looks very important indeed. A beautifully disguised drop does then make 15-30, but when Zverev brushes the tape with a forehand, Alcaraz’s riposte lands wide and hands over two break points. The first is saved when Zverev nets a backhand, a huge gust of wind as he returned having sent clay everywhere … but the second converted when a mishit forehand flies off somewhere towards Selhurst Park! Conditions must be tricky out there, and for the first time in a while, it feels like Zverev is in this match!

*Zverev 3-6 2-2 Alcaraz Zverev badly needs a comfy hold and he gets to 40-0 without having to hit a forehand; so far, he’s been broken to love but not held to love, a minor embarrassment he resolves here.

Zverev 3-6 1-2 Alcaraz* Zverev is really going for his shots now, big forehands helping him make 15-all. But a forehand return into the net – Alcaraz has got him with the serve out wide into the deuce court – means 30-15, then a gruelling rally ends with a booming forehand on to the line. Zverev points to the mark but I can see from north London that it’s in, and he appears to go long himself, a late call confirming it, but a check shows the ball was good. So they replay the point, a service-winner securing a strong hold, and Zverev consoles himself with a rant. He knows this is only going one way, and doesn’t seem to have any ideas as to how he might reverse the situation.

*Zverev 3-6 1-1 Alcaraz Now it’s Zverev inviting aggro in a game he should win comfortably, up 30-0 and 40-15 only to find himself at deuce without asking that much from his opponent. A monstrous serve out wide, though, brings advantage, then another, cleaned up with an overhead. That’s a massive hold for Zverev; it’s not too much to say that had he been broken there, the match would’ve felt close to over.

Zverev 3-6 0-1 Alcaraz* Alcaraz makes 15-0 then sends Zverev haring out wide before caressing a drop towards the other side and this is getting cruel; he’s a killer, like we said. But 40-0, three consecutive errors mean deuce, then an errant lob, with space on both sides for the pass, means he’s suddenly break point down and who saw that coming? Not Zverev, who gets a serve into the backhand only to stick his return into the net; the sobering effect of that first set won’t just disappear. And when he misses a backhand down the line having used the advantage of the breeze to open the channel, he looks despondent, but quickly restores deuce, again able to dominate the rally with greater weight of shot. A serve out wide, though, is far too good … but Alcaraz can’t convert, and then coming in behind his serve he allows the return to pass assuming it’s going wide, but it’s well in. So it’s back to the big serve-big forehand combo to save the second break point … only for a double to hand it back, and this feels like a crucial juncture. If Alcaraz holds, I’d not be surprised if he broke next game because the disappointment of failing to convert opportunities won’t just disappear for Zverev, who knows he’s got the advantage of conditions … and after the Russian goes wide, a frankly terrifying forehand winner, into the wind but supersonic, secures the game.

Carlos Alcaraz wins the first set 6-3!*Zverev 3-6 Alcaraz At 15-all, Alcaraz finds himself stranded at the net, somehow conjuring a pick-up down the middle that falls deep and offers no angle. Still, the riposte ought not to have hit the net but here we are; Alcaraz, though, then nets a forehand for 30-all. No matter: Zverev already looks devoid of options so tries to attack, problem being his forehand isn’t up to the task, and when one goes long it’s set-point … and a lovely shoulder-high forehand, cross-court and breaking the sideline, secures a set so one-sided you wonder how momentum can be reversed. Alcaraz knows he’s got the measure of his man, and there might easily be nothing left of Zverev’s forehand at the end of this match.

Zverev 3-5 Alcaraz* A terrific get from Zverev at 15-all … for all the good it does him, Alcaraz stretching into a luscious volley-winner. A confident swing-volley –backpeddling, leaping, falling away – then makes 40-15, and after a fantastic rally from the back, it’s Zverev whose forehand catches the cord and flies wide. Alcaraz is absolutely loving this, whereas his opponent looks stressed.

“I’m glad Zverev made the final if only because it preserves Nadal’s record of being beaten at Roland Garros only by players who went on to make the final,” writes Gregory Phillips. “He deserves that. Hoping Alcaraz wins here, though. Watching him in full flow is joyful, same as it was with Nadal and Federer. I haven’t got that feeling from the Zverev/Medvedev/Tsitsipas generation that was supposed to take over.”

No I agree – they’re good but not good enough, just as Dimitrov et al weren’t able to assert themselves. And I also agree that the way Alcaraz plays and acts makes him compelling – though if Tsitsipas only had a double-handed backhand, we might say similar about him. The first time I saw him play in Futures event, I thought he was a superstar, but so far his game isn’t quite at the level of his hair or his English.

*Zverev 3-4 Alcaraz Again, Alcaraz makes 0-15, and he quickly yanks Zverev in for a drop he can’t get up and back over the net; he’s enjoying himself now. But though Zverev punishes a forehand down the line to halve the deficit, Alcaraz varies pace and height, sending a loopy one from the back – so Zverev, perhaps feeling his ego pricked, responds in kind … only to send his effort long. That raises two points for the double-break and Alcaraz does really well to stay in the rally then, when he has his man marooned at the net, dumps the pass that looks inevitable … and similar happens again, Alcaraz working his way into prime position, only to do similar. A tremendous ace out wide then makes advantage, and another error then secures a colossal hold which keeps the set alive.

Zverev 2-4 Alcaraz* Zverev has perhaps the best serve in the game and Alcaraz has taken it twice – without hitting his top level or anything close to it. He’s loose now, though, consolidating to 15, and his opponent is already struggling for ideas, lacking the creativity, versatility and agility that’s across the other side of the net.

Germany’s Alexander Zverev serves to Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz. Photograph: Alain Jocard/AFP/Getty Images*Zverev 2-3 Alcaraz Zverev goes long then into the net, and though he does well to stick in another long rally after a fine return reverses the momentum of it, Alcaraz’s pressure forces the unforced error, and a big, flat forehand to the corner finds his opponent’s equivalent; he dumps it, and that’s a break to love! The consistency on the forehand side is the major difference between these two, though in co-comms, Tim Henman notes that all three breaks have come from the same side, and Alcaraz will shortly attempt to consolidate from there.

Zverev 2-2 Alcaraz* Now Zverev has his serve going, there’s a bit of pressure on Alcaraz, who makes 30-0 only to find a forehand more than he can handle. But a big serve down the T facilitates an overhead that does just about enough, and when Zverev sends him wide with a very presentable return, he somehow invents an angle to send it skimming cross-court along the tape for a delightful winner. We’re warming up now.

*Zverev 2-1 Alcaraz Zverev is into it now, making 40-0 in short order – the ace that takes him there is his 65th of the fortnight – and when Alcaraz nets a backhand, he holds to 15.

Zverev 1-1 Alcaraz* A shanked forehand gives up 0-15, a double 0-30. But then Alcaraz handles some big hotting from the back and when Zverev comes in, he doesn’t have the volleying chops to execute the the putaway. No matter: a poor drop allows him to make 15-40, Alcaraz saving the first break point when a return flies wide, but he then swats a backhand wide himself, and there’s the immediate break back.

*Zverev 0-1 Alcaraz (*denotes server) We mentioned earlier that Alcaraz has form for starting matches slowly – perhaps that’s why he opts to receive. And a double … followed by another … makes that a decent decision. I said earlier Zverev looked nervous, and he pauses to swap rackets because of course it couldn’t possibly be his fault. Still, the ability to blame extraneous factors and believe yourself is pretty helpful when it comes to succeeding in elite sport and an ace followed by a service-winner make 30-all. From there, we wind up at deuce when Zverev misses a forehand down the line, and a gorgeous volley, backhand on the stretch, ball sent across the face of the net, earns Alcaraz break point. What a start to the match this is – Zverev’s attempted pass, by the way, was no joke – but given a second serve to attack, Alcaraz storms forward and ends the point with a beautiful inside-out forehand to the corner. What a start!

Zverev to serve, and … play.

“Sad that Sinner Alcaraz couldn’t be the final,” says Kerrith Britland. “This one is a straight set victory for Carlitos. Zverev doesn’t have the weapons and suffers from the Gasquet complex … top-10 backhand, top-100 forehand. What’s your prediction?”

I’m going Alcaraz in three or four but if you’re pushing me, four. I agree that the match-up doesn’t suit Zverev … and here come our players! For once, Chatrier is full.

Our players are tunnelled; Zverev looks tense.

The players greet one another before the match. Photograph: Stéphanie Lecocq/ReutersIt’s bright but not sunny in Paris today, so those drops might bounce a little lower. On Friday, Sinner countered them with lobs, but I’m not sure Zverev has the hands for that – but he’ll surely have come up with some kind of strategy to handle them.

So how can Zverev win? He’s got much better at hiding his forehand in recent times, but as discussed, Alcaraz’s forehand could’ve been designed to find it. So he’ll have to serve brilliantly – and he can – and given how many drops he’ll have to retrieve, his volleying must also be on-point. He’s also got much better at putting away overheads, but is still iffy with anything requiring greater dexterity, so will need a great day in that aspect.

It’s worth noting that Alcaraz found the mental side of things a lot when losing last year’s semi to Djokovic, lost the first set of last year’s Wimbledon final 6-1 and the first set of Friday’s semi 6-2. If Zverev starts well, he’s got a chance, but it’s rare to see an underdog win from behind and this match-up reeks of that aspect.

Wow! Tim Henman has bought the aforementioned JP McEnroe a Roland Garros 84 t-shirt – he lost the final to Ivan Lendl from 2-0 up. No doubt Mac can return the favour when they get to SW19 with Wimbledon 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002 gear.

Back to our match, our resident coach Calv Betton has some thoughts: “There’s not much tactically to analyse and there’s also a good chance Zverev bottles it with it being the final. Alcaraz will win if he doesn’t feel the pressure again, which I don’t think he will. He’s way too good for Zverev – Zverev only beats him when he goes to pieces as in Australia when I think he was injured, and at RG 2022 when he kept missing mid-court forehands, which he never does.”

Already today: Coco Gauff and Katerina Siniakova have won the women’s doubles, beating Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini – remember her? – 7-6(5) 6-3.

PreambleSalut tout le monde and bienvenue à Roland-Garros 2024 – le finale hommes!

2004 feels like a long time ago – partly because the world has changed a lot since then, but mainly because, er … it is? Which makes it all the more mind-boggling that it was also the last time we had a French Open final that didn’t include him, him or him – award yourself the reward of your choice if you immediately thought yes of course, Gastón Gaudio beat Guillermo Coria 8-6 in the fifth after losing the first two sets 0-6 3-6.

And a further treat is all yours if you can recall that the following year, it was Mariano Puerta – yes that’s the Mariano Puerta – losing to 19-year-old debutant Rafael Nadal. Now, though, we’ve an entirely different set of dynastic hopefuls – the Alcaraz-Sinner semi felt like epochal change – two of whom will annihilate themselves for our delectation this afternoon.

Alcaraz is one of the most compelling entertainers our sport has ever seen, a good vibes John McEnroe with joy and love wafting from every pore. But make no mistake: much as we’d all love to cuddle him, he remains an absolute killer, his artist’s imagination backed up by the exhibition viciousness of a ninja’s forehand and and the certainty that when he needs to get it done, he can.

Alexander Zverev, on the other hand, was lucky enough to face “only” Dominic Thiem in his only other major final and went up two sets … then lost in a fifth-set tiebreak. He’s improved a lot since then, though, his first serve and backhand two of the best shots in the game, and retains unbelievable belief in his ability despite a dicky second serve and forehand.

Alcaraz, though, is particularly brilliant with his forehand cross-court and forehand inside-in, shots perfect for attacking his opponent’s weak wing, and if he keeps the head the likelihood is he gets it done. But no player boasting weapons as damaging as Zverev’s can be discounted, so it’s les yeux baissés for what could be the first of many classics.

Play: 2.30pm local, 1.30pm BST

Explore more on these topics

Featured News