Carlos Alcaraz WINS Wimbledon after coming from a set down to beat Novak Djokovic – Maxsports
May 20, 2024

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Carlos Alcaraz WINS Wimbledon after coming from a set down to beat Novak Djokovic

Two men on the Centre Court divided by sixteen years but united in astonishing athletic prowess.

And by the end of it only one of them was left standing, Carlos Alcaraz producing the most seismic performance that the sport of tennis has seen since Andy Murray won his first Wimbledon ten years ago.

This felt every bit as significant, and of the same kind of order as Boris Becker blitzing the famous old arena back in 1985. A new world order may have arrived, the seemingly unbeatable Novak Djokovic deposed within the ivy-clad walls, where he has not lost since Murray ended the British drought in 2013.

Alcaraz, now the third youngest champion in modern times, was three years old when Djokovic last lost a five-set match at the All England Club.

That was just one morsel of history weighing upon him as he walked out to serve for the match beneath the Royal Box at 5-4 in the decider, nearly four hours and 40 minutes into a final that had already proved one for the ages.

Carlos Alcaraz has won Wimbledon after beating Novak Djokovic 1-6, 7-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in Sunday's final

Carlos Alcaraz has won Wimbledon after beating Novak Djokovic 1-6, 7-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in Sunday’s final

The 20-year-old came from a set down to beat the seven-time champion in a thrilling final on Centre Court

The 20-year-old came from a set down to beat the seven-time champion in a thrilling final on Centre Court

It was the Spaniard's second Grand Slam victory after winning the US Open in 2022, and his second grass title

It was the Spaniard’s second Grand Slam victory after winning the US Open in 2022, and his second grass title

Before the Prince and Princess of Wales, and more A-listers than you could shake a stick at, he initially made a mess of a dropshot that has become his signature. He could have blinked in the face of destiny, but when it came calling he answered.

A full show reel of exquisite rallies had already been compiled before what happened from 0-15. First came a quickfire exchange finished off with a deft lob that left the great Serb floundering. Then an incredible lunging backhand volley as he charged the net, displaying a gymnast’s agility and the touch of a hand-eye genius.

Djokovic constructed the next point beautifully to drive a forehand home, asking yet another question. At 30-all Alcaraz smacked a 130 mph first serve right down the ‘T’ and then, on match point, he pulled out the perfect serve-forehand combination to seal the title, 1-6 7-6 6-1 3-6 6-4.

Barely five weeks after he had suffered a tension-induced cramp to forfeit the French Open semi-final against the same opponent in faintly embarrassing fashion he had stormed his fortress.

Alcaraz had pledged then that he would learn from the experience, and like all great players he evidently possesses the gift of being a quick learner.

Having arrived at Queen’s Club four weekends previously, viewing the grass like some kind of unattended suspect package, he had proved its total master.

It was a brilliant final – giving a vintage ending to a non-vintage tournament – all the more so because of a strong wind.

Unlike the aforementioned Murray and Becker, greats that they are, you can only believe that Alcaraz will go deep into double figures when it comes to winning Grand Slams. Springing around the baseline with his electric feet, stinging like a bee, he will drive the standards for the next generation.

Alcaraz struggled in the first set and went 5-0 down as he failed to find any rhythm on centre court

Alcaraz struggled in the first set and went 5-0 down as he failed to find any rhythm on centre court 

He fought back to take the second set via tie breakand continued to build momentum through the third

He fought back to take the second set via tie breakand continued to build momentum through the third

The Spaniard then held his nerve well to take the fifth set after going a break up on his storied opponent

The Spaniard then held his nerve well to take the fifth set after going a break up on his storied opponent

Alcaraz's athleticism was on show throughout as he raced around the court and his some classy volleys

Alcaraz’s athleticism was on show throughout as he raced around the court and his some classy volleys

Djokovic has done the same job with his extraordinary peer group, but he is now 36. You wonder if he will look back on his recent French Open triumph, and be grateful that he moved ahead of Rafael Nadal on 23 Majors while he still could. Possibly not, but this generational shift could impact everybody.

It was already the Wimbledon final with the biggest age differential since a young Jimmy Connors hammered Ken Rosewall in 1974, but by contrast the older man was very much expected to win this one.

Djokovic had paid several hidden compliments to his young challenger before he graciously accepted the runner-up trophy, accompanied by generous words.

He did not draw on every trick in the book, but was driven by Alcaraz to use a few of them. He took excessive time between points in the first two sets until umpire Fergus Murphy finally tried to get the match speeded up.

He took a ridiculously long ‘bathroom break’ on what was not a hot day between the third and fourth sets, of the kind the game bizarrely tolerates, which left his opponent hanging around for more than seven minutes.

And then Alcaraz drove him to such distraction by refusing to submit that Djokovic smashed his racket into the net post when walking to his chair, having been broken for 2-1 in the fifth. It was the one truly ugly moment in a sporting contest full of beauty.

The match featured an epic game in the third set that lasted 26 minutes and 32 points, which saw the younger player eventually hold for 4-1.

However, there were two other phases which had more relevance to the outcome, the first being the tiebreak which came at the end of a pulsating second set.

Djokovic has turned these shootouts into his killing zone, and at Grand Slams had won fifteen consecutively, breaking the spirit of his opponents. He played this one immaculately until set point at 6-5, before shovelling two poor backhands in succession that switched the set point around.

When Alcaraz responded with a backhand down the line, it was the first tiebreak at a Major that Djokovic had lost since early at the Australian Open, and suddenly we were on a promise for a proper match.

Djokovic was close to his best for much of the match but did make a few uncharacteristic errors

Djokovic was close to his best for much of the match but did make a few uncharacteristic errors

His frustration got the better of him in the final set, as he smashed his racket against the net post after hitting a straightforward return into the net

His frustration got the better of him in the final set, as he smashed his racket against the net post after hitting a straightforward return into the net

He was clearly emotional when interviewed after the loss but admitted the better player had won on the night

He was clearly emotional when interviewed after the loss but admitted the better player had won on the night

The second fateful juncture was when the Serb had break point in the second game of the decider, his third set slump now history. He had a high forehand volley with the court wide open but dumped it in the net.

That took him five minutes to recover from, and it was in that time that Alcaraz broke and gave himself the platform for victory.

What was so remarkable was that the first set had threatened a blowout along the lines of the women’s final. Yet Alcaraz has a steely composure beneath his easy smile, as he proceeded to show.

His youth bestows on him a lack of what Murray – watching in the crowd – describes as ‘scar tissue’. One day it will be different and he may feel like the hunted, but for now there is an unstoppable joy, and on Centre Court yesterday it was quite magnificent.