Preview: Alexander Zverev vs. Carlos Alcaraz – prediction, head-to-head, tournament so far

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Preview: Alexander Zverev vs. Carlos Alcaraz – prediction, head-to-head, tournament so far

Sports Mole previews Sunday’s French Open final between Alexander Zverev and Carlos Alcaraz, including predictions, head-to-head and their tournament so far.

A new king of clay will be crowned on Court Philippe-Chatrier on Sunday afternoon, as Alexander Zverev and Carlos Alcaraz clash in a titanic French Open men’s singles final.

The German fourth seed navigated his way past a sickness-affected Casper Ruud to reach the championship match, whereas Alcaraz had to come through a five-set classic against Jannik Sinner.

Match preview

© Reuters

On the same day that his trial for domestic abuse allegations against an ex-girlfriend ended with an out-of-court settlement, Zverev could not match Ruud’s intensity in the first portion of their colossal Roland-Garros semi-final, ceding the first set with a whimper.

However, as the luckless Ruud began to feel the effects of a stomach bug, Zverev took full advantage of the Norwegian’s inhibited movement, blasting a succession of backhand winners past his stricken foe and fighting back to prevail 2-6 6-2 6-4 6-2 in two hours and 35 minutes.

One person who Ruud can sympathise with is Aryna Sabalenka, who was also affected by an illness in her women’s quarter-final loss to Mirra Andreeva, but Zverev ruthlessly capitalised on the openings that were presented to him with a staggering 53 winners.

Nineteen aces also left the German’s racquet – including one on his first match point – as he reached just his second Grand Slam final after the 2020 US Open, where he lost to Dominic Thiem, while getting a major monkey off his back by ending a streak of five straight losses in Grand Slam semi-finals.

The 2024 Roland-Garros showpiece marks Zverev’s post-injury zenith since his distressing ankle roll at the 2022 French Open, after which 14-time winner Rafael Nadal affirmed that his stricken semi-final opponent had the makings of a future Grand Slam champion, and mercilessly defeating the record holder in the first round certainly helped Zverev enhance such credentials.

Carlos Alcaraz pictured at the French Open on May 26, 2024© Reuters

The German fourth seed and Ruud were kept waiting for battle for over fours hours as Alcaraz and Sinner engaged in an enthralling five-setter in the day’s first semi-final, where the magnitude of the occasion seemed to get to both men in the early stages before Sinner’s hand began painfully cramping.

As was the case with Zverev, Alcaraz required no second invitation to capitalise, and the Spaniard’s venomous forehand unsurprisingly came to the fore in a gripping 2-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3 victory over the soon-to-be world number one, earning him his third Grand Slam showpiece.

With victories to shout about at Flushing Meadows in 2022 and at Wimbledon last year, the world number three is a perfect 2-0 in major finals to date and was not made to pay for seven double faults against Sinner, rectifying such mistakes with a staggering 65 winners, 41 of which came from the forehand side.

Seemingly shaking off the forearm injury that ruled him out of the Italian Open, Alcaraz has already made history as the youngest male player to reach senior Grand Slam finals on all three surfaces, and it is easy to forget that the Spaniard is still just 21 years of age.

After a four-hour slog with Sinner, Alcaraz affirmed that he had to find “joy” in the “suffering”, and the reigning SW19 champion can expect to experience plenty of the latter against Zverev and his barnstorming backhand with the Coupe des Mousquetaires on the line.

Tournament so far

Alexander Zverev:

First round: vs. Rafael Nadal 6-3 7-6[5] 6-3
Second round: vs. David Goffin 7-6[4] 6-2 6-2
Third round: vs. Tallon Griekspoor 3-6 6-4 6-2 4-6 7-6[3]
Round of 16: vs. Holger Rune 4-6 6-1 5-7 7-6[3] 6-2
Quarter-final: vs. Alex de Minaur 6-4 7-6[5] 6-4
Semi-final: vs. Casper Ruud 2-6 6-2 6-4 6-2

Carlos Alcaraz:

First round: vs. JJ Wolf 6-1 6-2 6-1
Second round: vs. Jesper de Jong 6-3 6-4 2-6 6-2
Third round: Sebastian Korda 6-4 7-6[5] 6-3
Round of 16: vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3 6-3 6-1
Quarter-final: vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3 7-6[3] 6-4
Semi-final: vs. Jannik Sinner 2-6 6-3 3-6 6-4 6-3

Head To Head

Indian Wells Masters (2024) – Quarter-finals: Alcaraz wins 6-3 6-1
Australian Open (2024) – Quarter-finals: Zverev wins 6-1 6-3 6-7[2] 6-4
ATP Finals (2023) – Round Robin: Zverev wins 6-7[3] 6-3 6-4
US Open (2023) – Quarter-finals: Alcaraz wins 6-3 6-2 6-4
Madrid Open (2023) – Last 16: Alcaraz wins 6-1 6-2
French Open (2022) – Quarter-final: Zverev wins 6-4 6-4 4-6 7-6[7]
Madrid Open (2022) – Final: Alcaraz wins 6-3 6-1
Erste Bank Open (2021) – Semi-final: Zverev wins 6-3 6-3
Mexican Open (2021) – First round: Zverev wins 6-3 6-1

Little can separate Sunday’s French Open finalists in the head-to-head metric, although Zverev holds a miniscule edge with five victories compared to four from Alcaraz from their previous nine clashes at the highest level.

That streak includes one Roland-Garros success in the 2022 semis, although Alcaraz has prevailed in straight sets in their only other two meetings on clay, including that year’s Madrid Open final and the last 16 of the same Masters tournament the following year.

January’s Australian Open quarter-final went the German’s way, but revenge was Alcaraz’s at the Indian Wells Masters just a couple of months later, easing to a 6-3 6-1 success in the quarter-finals before lifting his 13th and most recent tour title.

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We say: Alcaraz to win in four sets

Neither Zverev nor Alcaraz faced a tip-top semi-final opponent on Friday, but even though the latter’s swinging arm is still encased in protective strapping, his trademark forehand is now operating at 100% and is a weapon that few can defend against.

Zverev’s flat backhand is also impossible to return at times, though, and the German has been one of the most in-form players on the tour in 2024, making Sunday’s final extremely challenging to call. However, Alcaraz’s Grand Slam final nous may just carry him over the line as he completes the clay-hard-grass major set.

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