What’s at stake for Alcaraz in Sunday’s final?

A first triumph on the clay for a third major title on three different surfaces is on the line for the Spaniard

Carlos Alcaraz, demi-finales, Roland-Garros 2024©Pauline Ballet / FFT
 - Dan Imhoff

Spain has toasted a Roland-Garros men’s champion in 15 of the 20 Roland-Garros tournaments Carlos Alcaraz has been on this earth.

It stands to reason it is an event that has brought him much joy watching on from afar on television, particularly after school in his home town of El Palmar.

On Sunday, the world No.3 has the chance to add his name to that honour roll when he meets fourth seed Alexander Zverev in the pair’s first Paris final.

Alcaraz would join his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero as a first-time Spanish winner, a decade after Rafael Nadal’s 14th crown and 30 years after Sergi Bruguera’s second Roland-Garros triumph.

“I have a special feeling to this tournament, because I remember when I finish school I'm running to my home just to put the TV on and watch the matches here [at Roland-Garros],” Alcaraz said after his five-set triumph over second seed Jannik Sinner.

“I watched a lot of matches. Of course, Rafa Nadal dominating this tournament for, let's say, 14, 15 years. It's something unbelievable.

“I wanted to put my name on that list of the Spanish players who won this tournament. Not only Rafa. Ferrero, Moya, Costa, a lot of Spanish players, legends from our sport that won this tournament, I really want to put my name on that list, as well.”

Spanish Roland-Garros men’s champions in the Open era

Rafael Nadal: 14 titles (2005-2008, 2010-2014, 2017-2020, 2022)
Sergi Bruguera: 2 (1993, 1994)
Juan Carlos Ferrero: 1 (2003)
Albert Costa: 1 (2002)
Carlos Moya: 1 (1998)
Andres Gimeno: 1 (1972)

Three’s a treat

At just 21 years and one month, Alcaraz will already hold as many Grand Slam titles as Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Gustavo Kuerten, Jan Kodes and Arthur Ashe in the Open era.

He would join Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Gustavo Kuerten, Stefan Edberg, Bjorn Borg, and Jimmy Connors as the only men in the Open era to win their first three majors from their first three finals.

He stands to emulate Wawrinka and Connors as only the third to have done so at different Slams.

It leaves only the Australian Open to complete the box set. Considering he has only contested it three times, there is every reason to believe the Spaniard could triumph at Melbourne Park on his fourth attempt as he would in Paris, should he prevail on Sunday.

Victory would already give Alcaraz more major trophies than every man born in the 1990s combined – only Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev have tasted Grand Slam glory among their peers born in that decade.

Stan Wawrinka, Roland-Garros, Finale, 2015©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Youngest men to win their first three Grand Slam finals

1. Bjorn Borg - 20 years at 1976 Wimbledon
2. Jimmy Connors - 22 years at 1974 US Open
3. Stefan Edberg - 22 years, 5 months at 1988 Wimbledon
4. Roger Federer - 22 years, 10 months at 2004 Wimbledon
5. Gustavo Kuerten - 24 years, 9 months at 2001 Roland Garros
6. Stan Wawrinka - 31 years, 5 months at 2016 US Open
* At 21 years, 1 month Alcaraz would be second

Youngest man to win majors on three surfaces

Already the youngest man to reach a major final on hard court, grass and clay, Alcaraz would become the youngest to triumph on all three surfaces should he deny Zverev.

“I always wanted to be one of the best players in the world,” Alcaraz said. “If I want to be one of the best players in the world, I have to be a good player in every surface, like Roger did, Novak, Rafa, Murray. The best players in the world had success in every surface. So I consider myself a player who adapts very well his style in every surface.”

He would join an esteemed list of just six players who have accomplished the feat.

Nadal currently holds the mark, which he achieved against Federer at 22 years and six months in the 2009 Australian Open final.

Carlos Alcaraz, demi-finales, Roland-Garros 2024©Pauline Ballet / FFT

Paris proved the final hurdle for Federer and Djokovic, the last leg to complete their respective career Grand Slams, which the Swiss achieved at Robin Soderling’s expense in 2009, and the Serbian over Murray in 2016.

Swede Mats Wilander, a three-time champion in Paris, added a third surface to his name when he scooped the 1988 Australian Open over Pat Cash in the tournament’s first year on hard courts, while Andre Agassi joined the list when he denied Andrei Medvedev in the 1999 Roland-Garros final.

Connors was the first in the Open era to triumph on three different surfaces at the majors. The American won three US Open titles on three different surfaces and won three of the four Slams at a time when the Australian Open and Wimbledon were both on grass.

Men to win Slams on three surfaces in the Open era

1. Rafael Nadal: 22 years, 7 months at Australian Open 2009
2. Mats Wilander: 23 years, 5 months at Australian Open 1988
3. Jimmy Connors: 26 years at US Open at US Open 1978
4. Roger Federer: 27 years, 9 months at Roland-Garros 2009
5. Novak Djokovic: 29 years at Roland-Garros 2016
6. Andre Agassi: 29 years, 1 month at Roland-Garros 1999
* At 21 years, 1 month Alcaraz would be the youngest