Match Report

Magical Alcaraz Ends Djokovic Streak In Classic, Claims Wimbledon Crown

Spaniard lifts second major title to retain World No. 1 spot
July 16, 2023
Carlos Alcaraz claimed his second major title on Sunday at Wimbledon.
ATP Tour
Carlos Alcaraz claimed his second major title on Sunday at Wimbledon. By Andy West

Has Carlos Alcaraz ushered in a changing of the grass-court guard?

Sunday’s Wimbledon final was billed as the ‘ultimate showdown’ by the Spaniard’s opponent, seven-time champion Novak Djokovic, and Alcaraz responded with a suitably inspired performance for a 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 victory. The World No. 1 recovered from a shaky start to deliver a high-quality championship-match display and become just the fifth man in the Open Era to win multiple major titles prior to turning 21.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” said Alcaraz, who also prevented Djokovic from replacing him at No. 1 in Monday's Pepperstone ATP Rankings with his win. “As I said before, of course it’s great to win, but even if I had lost, I would be really proud of myself with this amazing run. Making history in this beautiful tournament, playing a final against a legend of our sport.

“It’s a dream come true to be able to play on these stages. It’s amazing for a boy, 20 years old, to reach this kind of situation really fast. I’m really, really proud of myself and the team that I have. The work we put in every day, to be able to lift this.”

Alcaraz, who won his first major at the 2022 US Open, snapped Djokovic’s 34-match winning streak at Wimbledon with his four-hour, 42-minute victory in an SW19 classic. The 20-year-old collapsed to the turf in emotional scenes on championship point after his brand of huge groundstrokes and delicate touches, which lit up the All England Club this fortnight, made him just the fourth active male player to lift the trophy at the All England Club after Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

Djokovic made a sizzling start in south-west London, but Alcaraz dug deep to snap the Serbian's 15-tie-break winning streak at Grand Slam events and claim a crucial second set before later holding off a Djokovic comeback to claim the title. With the pair going toe to toe in a series of scintillating exchanges on the slick London grass, their third Lexus ATP Head2Head encounter frequently had the crowd on its feet on Centre Court.

Up against one of the greatest movers in the history of the game in Djokovic, the way Alcaraz manoeuvred his opponent around the court contributed to the Serbian taking multiple tumbles to the ground across the match. The second-seeded Djokovic had dropped serve just three times en route to the final but Alcaraz carved out five breaks with his razor-sharp return game as he outhit the seven-time champion by 66 winners to 32.

Alcaraz was riddled with cramps after two sets of the pair’s Roland Garros semi-final in early June, but it was the Spaniard who outlasted his opponent in this physical marathon clash. He broke Djokovic, one of the game’s all-time clutch players, in a remarkable 32-point, 27-minute game for a 4-1 lead in the third set, and later outhit Djokovic by 18 winners to three in the decider.

<a href=''>Carlos Alcaraz</a> Carlos Alcaraz lifts his second major title after defeating Novak Djokovic on Sunday at Wimbledon. Photo: Julian Finney/Getty Images.

Alcaraz’s task of defeating Djokovic at Wimbledon, where the 36-year-old was chasing a fifth consecutive title, only became tougher after he was outplayed in the first set. Yet the Spaniard demonstrated his comfort on the big stage by rallying to a famous victory, just the second defeat Djokovic has suffered in 81 Wimbledon matches after winning the opening set.

“After the first set, I thought, ‘Carlos, increase the level, everyone will be disappointed’,” said Alcaraz. “I have to congratulate Novak, it was amazing to play against him. What can I say about him? It’s unbelievable.

“You inspired me a lot, playing tennis, [I watched] you since I was born,” added Alcaraz, turning to Djokovic. “You were already winning tournaments. You are probably in better shape than me. Thirty-six is the new 26, you make that happen. It’s amazing.”

“Amazing, what quality at the end of the match,” said Djokovic of Alcaraz. “When you had to serve it out, you came up with some big serves and big plays so you deserve it, absolutely. Congratulations.

“I thought I would have trouble with you only on clay and maybe on hard courts but not on grass. But it’s a different story on grass from this year, obviously. Amazing way to adapt to the surface. You played twice before this year’s Wimbledon on grass, and it’s amazing what you did.”

Although Alcaraz held off Djokovic’s bid to return to the top of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings with his triumph, the pair looks set to continue duelling for the remainder of the year to claim the coveted year-end ATP No. 1 presented by Pepperstone.

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Home favourite and two-time former Wimbledon champion Murray was among those who enjoyed the fascinating clash on Centre Court, where Hollywood stars Daniel Craig and Brad Pitt, and the Prince and Princess of Wales were also in attendance, sat alongside Spain's King Felipe VI of Spain. They could have witnessed Djokovic make history by equalling former WTA star Margaret Court's record of 24 major singles trophies, but instead saw Alcaraz add to his burgeoning reputation as one of sport’s brightest young stars.

“It’s really special to play in front of royalty. The Prince of Wales, King Felipe," said Alcaraz before turning to his home nation's monarch. "I’m really proud that you are here supporting me. I played in front of you twice, I won both, so I hope you come more,” he joked.

Set One, Djokovic 7-6(1)

The Serbian produced a masterful first-set performance on Centre Court, where his clean, deep returning piled the pressure on Alcaraz’s delivery. Djokovic converted two of his six break points to deliver an early statement as Alcaraz, whose huge groundstrokes helped him reach his maiden Wimbledon final for the loss of just two sets, was unable to penetrate his opponent’s defence with any kind of regularity.

Djokovic, who dropped serve just three times en route to the final, continued his sensational tournament on serve. He faced just one break point in the set, in the opening game, and at one point responded to Alcaraz attacking his second serve by sending his next one down at 120mph.

The depth of Djokovic’s groundstrokes also prevented Alcaraz from moving forward frequently. The 20-year-old won 28 of 36 points at the net during his stunning semi-final win against Daniil Medvedev, but he only ventured forwards four times in the opening set against Djokovic, winning the point twice.

Set Two, Alcaraz 7-6(6)

After Djokovic’s first-set whirlwind, Alcaraz required a fast response, and he engineered one by claiming his first break of serve in the match in the second game of the second set. It was just the fourth time across his Wimbledon run that Djokovic had dropped serve and, despite that setback, the Serbian remained on course to beat his record-low of six service games dropped en route to a Wimbledon title, which he set in 2015.

Just as Alcaraz appeared to settle and with a supportive Centre Court crowd urging the Spaniard to work his way back into the contest, Djokovic immediately reasserted himself in trademark fashion. He notched his third break of Alcaraz’s serve in the following game, before crucially outlasting his younger opponent in a mesmerising 29-shot rally when break point down at 1-2, 30/40.

The rest of the set passed without another break point, leaving Alcaraz trying to become the first player to defeat Djokovic in a tie-break at a major since Enzo Couacaud in the second round of January’s Australian Open. The Serbian was on the brink of his 15th consecutive tie-break triumph at the majors at 6/5 but Alcaraz held firm behind serve before powering a backhand return winner on his first set point.

Set Three, Alcaraz 6-1

Buoyed by his tie-break triumph, Alcaraz carried the momentum through to the third set as he continued to showcase his full repertoire of shotmaking. His forehand power combined with some stunning deft touches kept the pressure on Djokovic, who made 18 unforced errors in an uncharacteristic third-set performance.

Alcaraz had opened up a 3-1 lead with a single break when one of the games of this year’s tournament, featuring 13 deuces, played out across 27 breathtaking minutes on Centre Court. Alcaraz saved eight game points and Djokovic six break points before the Spaniard converted his seventh to take a 4-1 lead and assume complete control of the set.

The end of the set was far less complicated for Alcaraz, who won eight of the final 10 points to move within one set of becoming just the fifth man in the Open Era to win multiple major titles prior to turning 21. His three breaks of Djokovic's serve in the third set was equal to the number of games the Serbian had dropped across his six previous matches this year at SW19, an indication of how dialled in the 20-year-old was on return.

Set Four, Djokovic 6-3

Djokovic had no intention of fading away in his bid for a historic 24th major, however, and the Serbian raised his game again in the fourth set of what was rapidly becoming an all-time classic final on Centre Court. He recovered from 15/40 to hold in the second game but then rediscovered his rock-solid form from the first set, breaking Alcaraz twice to recapture the momentum and set up a one-set shootout for the title.

Having dropped serve three times in the previous set, The upturn in Djokovic’s service game was key to him coming back into the match. The Serbian saved both break points he faced to prevail in a set in which he struck just nine winners to Alcaraz’s 14.

Set Five, Alcaraz 6-4

With an opponent so used to dealing with high-pressure moments at the tailend of Grand Slam finals, Alcaraz faced a real test of his big-stage nerve on Centre Court. The Spaniard let slip a break point in the opening game and then found himself under pressure in the rally at 30/40 down in the next game. At such a pivotal moment, it was Alcaraz’s athletic ability while chasing a wide ball which came to his rescue, as he forced Djokovic to net a forehand drive volley on a high ball.

That persistence brought greater reward in the next game, as Alcaraz broke through himself for the crucial break of the final set. Frustrated, Djokovic struck the netpost with his racquet and spent a few minutes shaking out his wrist as a consequence, and Alcaraz dropped just five further points on serve in the match as he completed a famous victory.

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