Carlos Alcaraz heralded the changing of the guard in men's tennis as he ended Novak Djokovic's long reign at Wimbledon with a stunning 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 3-6 6-4 victory to win the All England Club title for the first time on Sunday
Monday 17 July 2023 06:44, UK
World No 1 Carlos Alcaraz ended Novak Djokovic's hopes of a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam to claim his maiden Wimbledon title in a five-set epic, 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 3-6 6-4.
The young Spaniard looked to be on his way to victory when he recovered from a nervous start to take a two-sets-to-one lead, only for Djokovic to show once again his remarkable powers of resilience.
It was he who appeared in the ascendancy at the start of the fifth set but back came 20-year-old Alcaraz to claim victory after four hours and 43 minutes, finally landing a meaningful blow for the young guns against the man 16 years his senior.
Alcaraz slumped to the court after Djokovic's final forehand dropped into the net before sharing a long embrace with the vanquished Serb.
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Alcaraz, who has added Wimbledon to his US Open title, said: "Well it's a dream come true for me. It's great to win but even if I had lost I would have been really proud of myself, playing a final against a legend of our sport.
"After the first set I thought 'hmmm... Carlos increase the level'. I have to congratulate Novak. I started playing tennis watching you. When I was born you were already winning tournaments. But 36 is the new 26. It's amazing."
Spain's King Felipe was in the royal box supporting his country's new star.
"It's special to play here in front of royalty. I am really proud you are here supporting me. You've come to watch me twice and I won, so I hope you come some more."
Djokovic, looking to win an eighth title and a fifth in a row at the All England Club, raced away with the opener 6-1 in 34 minutes.
Alcaraz was unable to cope with Djokovic's tactical awareness with the Serb making just two unforced errors to take early control of the match.
The Spaniard's nerves seemed to settle at the start of the second set and he broke the Djokovic serve to lead 2-0.
But Djokovic, appearing in a record 35th Grand Slam final, broke straight back and a high-calibre set went to a tie-break.
The 36-year-old had won his previous 14 tie-breaks at Grand Slams but Alcaraz finally put an end to the streak by taking it 8-6 with a stunning return of serve to level the match.
Alcaraz broke again at the start of the third, with Djokovic chuntering to umpire Fergus Murphy about a disputed let call.
The defending champion, given a time violation in the tie-break, was booed by some of the crowd when he had a long mid-game conversation with the umpire.
Alcaraz broke again after an epic 26-minute game with his seventh break point and a third break wrapped up the set 6-1 as the match ticked towards three hours.
Djokovic took an extended bathroom break at the changeover and re-emerged to more jeers from the crowd.
It seemed to do the trick, though, as at 2-2 in the fourth he fashioned two break points, taking the second when Alcaraz's drop shot hit the net.
Djokovic finally had some momentum and took the fourth set to send the match into a deciding fifth-set shoot-out.
He then squandered a break point for 2-0 in the fifth when he slammed what looked a certain winner into the net.
It proved costly, as in the next game Alcaraz forced the break to prompt Djokovic to smash his racket into the wooden net post.
Djokovic's reign was over after Alcaraz served out for a stunning victory to be crowned the new king of Wimbledon.
The 20-year-old kicked a ball into the crowd in celebration before climbing up to the players' box to enjoy the moment with his team.
Carlos Alcaraz is the first player to defeat three top-10 opponents en route to secure the men's singles title at the Championships since Pete Sampras in 1994 (Michael Chang, Todd Martin and Goran Ivanisevic).
The Spaniard is the second to defeat Djokovic in a five-sets Grand Slam final after Andy Murray at the US Open 2012.
He is the first player to defeat Novak Djokovic in Wimbledon since Tomas Berdych in quarter-finals 2017, 2,195 days ago by retirement.
Lleyton Hewitt in 2002, 21 years ago, was the last man to win the Wimbledon singles who was not from the quartet of Dvokovic, Federer, Murray or Nadal.
Aged 20 years 72 days, Alcaraz becomes the third youngest player in the Open era to win the Wimbledon men’s singles title – after Boris Becker (who won his first two Wimbledon titles aged 17 years 227 days in 1985 and aged 18 years 226 days in 1986) and Bjorn Borg (who won his first Wimbledon title aged 20 years 27 days).
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Djokovic, beaten on Centre Court for the first time in 10 years, said to the crowd: "Good afternoon. Not so good for me but good for Carlos.
"I have to praise Carlos and his team. Quality at the end of the match, you served it out and you deserved it. I thought I'd only have trouble with you on clay or hard court, not on grass. Amazing, what you did in Queen's and here.
"As for me you never like to lose matches like this but when all the emotions have settled I still have to be very grateful. I've won many close matches here down the years, maybe I should have lost a couple of finals that I won so it's 'even stevens'.
"It's a tough one to swallow when you are so close. I lost to the better player and I have to congratulate him and move on."
Djokovic welled up when he saw his son Stefan and said: "Thank you for supporting me."