Test of nerves for Alcaraz as prodigy bids for maiden French Open title against Zverev

Carlos Alcaraz is the third seed at the French Open
Carlos Alcaraz is the third seed at the French OpenReuters
Carlos Alcaraz (21) will face a major test of nerves when he takes on Alexander Zverev (27) in a potentially high-octane French Open men's singles final as both players look to claim a maiden Roland Garros title on Sunday.

Alcaraz, who already has two Grand Slam titles to his name, has been seen as fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal's successor on the Paris clay. But in last year's semi-final, tension and nerves got the better of him and he cracked against Novak Djokovic.

In Friday's last-four encounter against Jannik Sinner, he owed his long comeback from a woeful, tense start to the Italian's inconsistency.

As long as he is mentally prepared for the challenge, however, Alcaraz, the youngest player to reach a Grand Slam final on all three surfaces - hard, clay and grass - will be the favourite to lift the Musketeers Cup and add his name to the list of Spanish players crowned at Roland Garros.

"I remember when I finish school I'm running to my home just to put the TV on and watch the matches here in the French Open," the Spaniard said.

"I watched a lot of matches. Of course Rafa Nadal. I wanted to put my name on that list of the Spanish players who won this tournament.

"Not only Rafa. (Juan Carlos) Ferrero, (Carlos) Moya, (Albert) Costa, a lot of Spanish players, legends from our sport who won this tournament, I really want to put my name on that list, as well."

Alexander Zverev is the fourth seed
Alexander Zverev is the fourth seedReuters

Fourth seed Zverev, meanwhile, will be looking to settle a score with the tournament itself, having been eliminated in the semi-finals here in the three previous editions while still chasing his maiden Grand Slam title.

He has reached the final at a major once previously, at the 2020 US Open.

"Going from the US Open final where I was two points away (from victory) to being rolled off in a wheelchair here two years ago," after suffering an ankle injury against Nadal, "it's all part of my journey," said the German, who won the Rome Masters ahead of the French Open.

Zverev, who has been tested in marathon matches here this year, has however been playing some of his best tennis, and his ability to prevent Alcaraz from revving up his devastating forehand will be a key of the contest on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Alcaraz has won five of their nine meetings so far and leads 2-1 on clay. Their last encounter on tennis' slowest surface was a one-sided affair, with the Spaniard prevailing 6-1 6-2 in Madrid last year.

Last four meetings
Last four meetingsFlashscore


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