Carlos Alcaraz had said he wanted another chance to go up against Novak Djokovic. He said it would make a triumph at the Wimbledon Open even more special. Well, Alcaraz had the opportunity to face Djokovic. And he beat him.
Alcaraz shrugged off a poor start and increased the pace late in the game to end Djokovic’s 34-game Wimbledon winning streak by beating him 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-1, 3 -6, 6-4 after a thrilling final full of twists and turns on Sunday.
In doing so, Alcaraz earned a first All England Club title and his second Grand Slam trophy.
Alcaraz, world number one, prevented Djokovic from winning his eighth Wimbledon title, which would have allowed him to equal a record there, and to collect a fifth consecutive coronation on the London lawn. Djokovic was also deprived of a 24e men’s singles career title at a major tournament.
Instead of Djokovic, a 36-year-old Serbian, becoming the oldest men’s champion of the professional era at Wimbledon, Alcaraz, a 20-year-old Spaniard, became the third-youngest to triumph.
The age gap between the two is the widest in a men’s Grand Slam final since 1974.
Alcaraz therefore had the youth on their side, which was also the case, of course, when they crossed swords at the French Open last month.
On this occasion, the duel had been extraordinary for two sets, before Alcaraz suffered from cramps and died. This time around, he had the stamina and the shots to overcome Djokovic.
Alcaraz is faster and capable of more power — serves around 210 km/h, forehands over 160 km/h — but Djokovic is blessed with an abundance of talent and great muscle memory. He’s been there, and done it, in a way Alcaraz, for now, can only dream of.
But if that win on a windy, cloudy day on Center Court, where Djokovic last lost in the final in 2013, is any indication, Alcaraz is set to achieve a lot himself.
All this is relatively new for the Spaniard: the 35e Djokovic’s Grand Slam final, a record, was the second for Alcaraz.
Yet it was Alcaraz who won a mini masterpiece of 32 points in 25 minutes to eventually take the third set.
And it was Alcaraz who took the lead for good, breaking to take a 2-1 lead in the fifth set with a backhand passing winner.
Djokovic, who fell during the point but quickly got up, responded by hitting his racquet against the net post. He destroyed his equipment and was given a code violation by chair umpire Fergus Murphy.
Both players will play for another 24 minutes, bringing the total to over four and a half hours, but Alcaraz never gave in, never gave up. And it was Alcaraz, not Djokovic, who received the iconic trophy.