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Carlos Alcaraz discusses a ‘special’ French Open win, targeting Olympic success and plans for a new tattoo

By George Ramsay and Amanda Davies, CNN

(CNN) — As a child, Carlos Alcaraz used to run home from school to watch the French Open on TV, dreaming of one day playing on the tournament’s clay courts and becoming champion.

That dream became a reality on Sunday as the Spaniard defeated world No. 4 Alexander Zverev in five sets to lift his third grand slam title – all at the age of only 21.

In a gritty and often unpredictable performance on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Alcaraz showed his trademark fight and resilience against Zverev, coming back from two sets to one down to become the youngest man to win major titles on clay, grass and hard courts.

“Honestly, first of all, I’m exhausted,” Alcaraz told CNN Sport’s Amanda Davies the day after claiming his first title at Roland Garros. “It was a really tough one. It is a dream come true for me. I really wanted to lift this trophy one day, and then to be able to do it is a great feeling.

“This tournament, I’ve watched it since I was five, six years old … Being in this position right now is so, so special,” he added.

With Alcaraz’s latest success comes yet another tattoo.

He already has the dates of his grand slam wins at the US Open and Wimbledon – the latter alongside a strawberry synonymous with the tournament – inked on his skin, and now plans to get the Eiffel Tower and Sunday’s date on his left ankle.

It seems a fitting choice: after his victory in the City of Light, Alcaraz shared an old photo of himself aged 12, watching the tournament on a big screen in the shadow of the Paris landmark.

Is he worried about running out of skin space, should he continue to accumulate more grand slam titles?

“This is good news if that happens,” said Alcaraz. “I said to my family and to my team that it’s going to be the first grand slam. If I win another French Open, I’m not going to get a tattoo.”

With his victory over Zverev, the world No. 2 joins a long line of Spanish men to have lifted the French Open title. Rafael Nadal leads the way with a record-breaking 14 titles, while Juan Carlos Ferrero, Albert Costa, Carlos Moyá and Sergi Bruguera have all been champions since 1993.

“I really wanted to put my name on that list as well,” said Alcaraz, who is now coached by 2003 winner Ferrero.

Having sustained an arm injury ahead of this year’s French Open, the Murcia native withdrew from the Italian Open but has exceeded his expectations physically over the past two weeks, winning four of his seven matches in three sets.

It was only against Zverev and new world No. 1 Jannik Sinner that Alcaraz went the distance – the first man in the Open Era to win the final and the semifinal of the French Open in five sets.

After losing the third set against Zverev, letting slip a 5-2 lead, he had to dig deep into his energy reserves and raise his intensity, racing around the court and chasing down every shot.

The two highlights were a so-called “banana” forehand – made famous by Nadal – in the fourth set and a stunning backhand passing shot when Alcaraz had seemed certain to lose the point in the deciding set.

“If I lost, I wanted to do it fighting until the last ball, running, playing my best tennis,” he said. “That’s all I thought about in that moment: to keep trying to find solutions.”

Alcaraz’s attention now turns to Wimbledon, where he will defend the title he won in dramatic fashion against Novak Djokovic last year, and then the Olympics in Paris, which will mean a return to Roland Garros.

There, he hopes to play doubles alongside Nadal – potentially one of the 22-time grand slam champion’s final tournaments – as well as going for a gold medal in the singles competition.

“I’ve won Roland Garros and I’m going for the Olympics,” said Alcaraz. “I’m going to try to get both.”

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