“You have to give your heart” – Alcaraz on his fifth-set mentality

Carlos Alcaraz has now won 11 of 12 five-set matches he’s played. After Roland-Garros, he shared his secret to success.

Alcaraz Roland Garros 2024 - © Action Plus / Panoramic Alcaraz Roland Garros 2024 – © Action Plus / Panoramic

Yet again, Carlos Alcaraz has pulled off another impressive five-set victory at Grand Slams. This time, it was in the final of Roland-Garros, defeating Alexander Zverev 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 to win his maiden title in Paris.

The win was Alcaraz’s 11th time prevailing in five sets, from just 12 Grand Slam matches that have gone the distance. His secret? It’s all about the Spaniard’s desire to be the best.

“In those moments, it’s where the top players give their best tennis,” Alcaraz explained after lifting his third major title on Sunday. “I wanted to be one of the best tennis players in the world, so I have to give an extra in those moments in the fifth set.”

The incredible five set record of Alcaraz

t’s not just the percentage of five-set matches that Alcaraz has won–92 percent–which makes his record impressive, but also who he’s prevailed over, and the nature of those wins.

Here are some of the names he’s defeated in five sets over the last three years:

  • Alexander Zverev (Roland-Garros 2024)
  • Jannik Sinner (Roland-Garros 2024, US Open 2022)
  • Novak Djokovic (Wimbledon 2023)
  • Marin Cilic (US Open 2022)
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas (US Open 2021)

And here are what his fifth-set score lines read: 6-2, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 6-0, 6-3.

Only twice in 12 fifth sets has Alcaraz been pushed to a tie-break: usually, he pulls away early. Not only does he win fifth sets, over high-calibre players, but he also does it in impressive fashion.

“Of course, the mental strength play a great part on that moment. So I think that’s why I have good success in the fifth sets, and of course you have to take that in the fifth set if you want to win the slams.”

“I know that when I’m playing a fifth set you have to give everything and you have to give your heart,” Alcaraz went on to explain. “I have to show the opponent that I am fresh, I’m like we are playing the first game of the match.

“So I think that works pretty well if the opponents see me that I’m moving well, I’m hitting the good shots, I’m finding good solutions.”

Free range to play aggressive the key for Alcaraz

Key to Alcaraz’s success is his willingness to play aggressive tennis in big moments.

When asked about this following his Roland-Garros title, the Spaniard explained how it’s a win-win situation for him

“I’m trying in that moment just to be aggressive, just to go for it, play my style, go to the net, dropshots, hit big shots. 

“Because if I lose it, if I miss it, my feelings are really good. It doesn’t matter if I lose, it doesn’t matter if I miss it, because when I go for it, the feelings are much better if I go defensive and lose it anyway.”

Does his team agree with this nerve-racking approach under pressure? Well, sometimes…

“Sometimes I do whatever they tell me, and sometimes it depends on my feelings in that moment.”

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