Roland Garros

Alcaraz’s brutal effectiveness in finals

The Spaniard remains with a record of 8-1 in definitions of large tournaments

June 09, 2024

Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Carlos Alcaraz will rise to No. 2 in the PIF ATP Rankings after being champion at Roland Garros.
By Staff

“They are not played, they are won,” Carlos Alcaraz has always said about the finals. And his phrase is so backed by the numbers that this Sunday at Roland Garros he became the seventh player to win his first three Grand Slam finals, and the third to do so in different tournaments.

On the first list he joined legendary names: Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Gustavo Kuerten, Stefan Edberg, Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors. But now only Connors, Wawrinka and Alcaraz have achieved it in different Grand Slam events.

What is most surprising about the Spanish is his effectiveness at such a young age. There is a reason why he is now the second youngest player to win his third major, only behind Bjorn Borg, who achieved it at the age of 20 at Wimbledon 1976; and the youngest to be champion on three different surfaces, surpassing Rafael Nadal, who achieved it in 2009 at the age of 22.

In addition, the Murcian has equaled a record held by Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten, former No. 1 in the PIF ATP Rankings. Now the two are the only players in the Open Era with 100% effectiveness after at least three Grand Slam finals.

The 21-year-old right-hander has always managed to make a difference in championship games. His performance this Sunday sums up his philosophy in this type of instance: despite the threats of cramps, irregular spikes on the court, going 1-2 in sets, and committing more unforced errors than Zverev (56 against 41), Alcaraz prevailed through perseverance and knowing how to find enjoyment in suffering.

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This way of approaching finals positions him as the third player with the best effectiveness in finals of the Open Era. He has 77.77% (won 14 finals, lost four), and is only surpassed by the Austrian – already retired – Thomas Muster (81.5%, 44-10) and the Polish Hubert Hurkacz (80%, 8- 2). The difference is that Muster only played one definition in Grand Slams; and Hurkacz, still none.

Alcaraz grows so much in large tournaments that he won his first six finals in ATP Masters 1000 category tournaments or higher: Miami 2022 (d. Ruud), Madrid 2022 (d. Zverev), US Open 2022 (d. Ruud) , Indian Wells 2023 (d. Medvedev), Madrid 2023 (d. Struff) and Wimbledon 2023 (d. Djokovic).

The undefeated one was lost to Novak Djokovic in the final of the ATP Masters 1000 in Cincinnati last year. But that was his only defeat in big tournament finals. He then prevailed at this year’s Indian Wells (d. Medvedev) and this Sunday at Roland Garros, no more, no less.

Scenarios that intimidate most humans bring out the best in a boy who is barely 21 years old.


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