Wimbledon, England. A poor start left Carlos Alcaraz with one point after a two-set loss against Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final.
Such a deficit scares anyone, let alone a 20-year-old in his second major final, and against anyone, let alone Djokovic, someone who hasn’t lost on Center Court in ten years, someone who is aiming for a fifth championship in a row. and a record eighth place in the All England Club. Someone who has won the first two Grand Slams this year and 23 in their career.
Ah, but Alcaraz, last year’s US Open champion, wanted that shot to land on Djokovic, whom he called “a legend in our sport.” Said it would make winning Wimbledon even more special. And so Alcaraz managed to get through this tie-break, when the choruses of “Car-los! Carlos! shouts of his older, more experienced, more experienced opponent with the two-syllable nickname “No-le! No-le! And shortly thereafter, Alcaraz scored 32 points in a 25-minute game masterpiece. And, importantly, the Spaniard managed in the fifth set.
Add it all up and the No. 1 ranked Alcaraz marked himself as the star people predicted, turning potential into a triumph and ending Djokovic’s 34-match All-England winning streak. beating him 1-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in a thrilling final on Sunday. Alcaraz won his first Wimbledon title and his second Grand Slam trophy overall.
“I didn’t give up, I didn’t give up,” said Alcaraz, the third youngest person to win a major on grass in the Open era that began in 1968, after Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg. “We made great plays, great points. It was a long, long match. Long sets. It was the mental part that allowed me to stay there.”
He is the first person outside of the elite quartet of Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to win Wimbledon since 2002, and for many it symbolized the transfer of power in men’s tennis.
“I have not played with a player like him. Ever,” Djokovic said. That is a pleased statement from a guy who has competed against Federer and Nadal for so long and has had so many great matches.
“He proved,” Djokovic said, “that he is, without a doubt, the best player in the world.”
The age difference between Alcaraz and 36-year-old Djokovic, who wiped away tears during the awards ceremony, was the largest in any men’s helmet final since 1974.
So Alcaraz had youth on his side, which of course happened when they met in the semi-finals of the French Open last month. It was extraordinary for two sets before Alcaraz shrunk and disappeared. This time he had the stamina and punches to beat Djokovic and the belief that he could win.
After Alcaraz made nine unforced errors in the opening set against Djokovic’s two, showing signs of nervousness that had taken its toll on him in Paris, the tide began to turn on Sunday. At 4-all in the second set, Djokovic slipped on a worn patch behind the endline under the king box, knocking his racquet off as he fell. On the next change, Djokovic flexed one leg, flexing it over the other, and then slammed his left heel into the net for extra stretch.
They’ll head for the tiebreaker, Djokovic’s dominion: he won all six such sets he played at Wimbledon before the final and 15 in a row at Grand Slams.
Undeterred by a warning from tower umpire Fergus Murphy for serving too long, Djokovic took the lead 6-5. Set point.
But two scoring backhands from Djokovic put Alcaraz up one point this set.
“The backhands let me down,” Djokovic later said.
Alcaraz then hit the pass winner with a backhand after a 118 mph return, holding his completion posture. As people in the stands rose to roar, Alcaraz turned around with his right hand to his ear, enjoying the moment.
“If I had lost that set, I might not have been able to lift the trophy,” Alcaraz said. “I probably could have lost in three sets.”
They lasted two hours and two sets.
Now it was a match.
It started to get remembered.
The fifth game of the third set was perhaps worth the high entry fee in itself. Not a single man wanted to bend. Nobody wanted to give up anything. Yes, it was one game, but it seemed meaningful.
When Djokovic hit a right into the net to break through – one of five times he conceded a serve in a match, more than his previous six opponents combined – Alcaraz celebrated his 4-1 lead in the set by throwing his head back and yelling: Vamos! »
But Djokovic didn’t leave. He raised his level again, bringing this amazing fight to the fifth set.
One of several reasons Djokovic liked the odds at this stage: He started Sunday with a record of 10-1 in five sets at Wimbledon and 35-9 at all majors.
However, these matches are in the past.
Alcaraz is the future.
It accelerates to 130 miles per hour. His forehand sledgehammer reaches 100 mph, unleashed in such a way that an observer will believe that every ounce of power, every bit of his being, is put into every blow. The slap of the racket and his “Whoo!” a breath of tension—along with the sighs of impressed spectators—rolled through the arena.
He’s showing off as much variety as possible, from his volleying skills to well-camouflaged drop shots that got him back in the thick of things in the second and third sets.
Djokovic, meanwhile, also has a lot of talent and a huge muscle memory. So often he has rushed, stretched and slid almost into a split to play Alcaraz’s obvious finishing blows in a way no one else could.
In addition, he was there and did it in a way that Alcaraz can only dream of so far.
But if this victory on a windy and overcast day is any sign, Alcaraz is well on his way to making a name for himself.
He took the lead for good, making a break to go up 2-1 in the fifth with a game-winning pass from the left. Djokovic, who fell during the point play but quickly rebounded, responded by hitting the net with his racket, releasing the shot. He destroyed his equipment and received a code violation from Murphy.
“Disappointment at the moment,” Djokovic called it.
They played for another 24 minutes, but Alcaraz never gave up, never gave up, no matter how skillful and strong-willed the player behind the net was. And it was Alcaraz, not Djokovic, who covered his face and rolled on the grass after the final point, after which he received the golden trophy.
“This is something I will never forget,” Alcaraz said. “That’s for sure.”