© Reuters. Tennis – Wimbledon – All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, London, Britain – July 16, 2023 Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz in action during his final match against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
By Pritha Sarkar
LONDON (Reuters) – Carlos Alcaraz announced the changing of the guard in men’s tennis as he ended Novak Djokovic’s long reign at Wimbledon with a roaring 1-6 7-6(6) 6-1 3-6 6- 4 against winning the All England Club title for the first time on Sunday.
The 36-year-old Serbian had been indestructible on center court at Wimbledon for a decade, but finally met his match when he ran out of ideas to stop young Alcaraz from rushing to the title.
After the 20-year-old broke for a 2-1 lead in the fifth set with a superb winner, Djokovic’s racquet felt the full force of his anger as he smashed it against the wooden post of the net to leave it in a mutilated. mess.
It earned Djokovic a second warning in the contest, with the world number two also being warned earlier for taking too long to get into his serves.
All that distraction failed to deflect Alcaraz off course as he became the youngest man since 18-year-old Boris Becker in 1986 to win the Challenge Cup after Djokovic took a forehand into the net , leaving the Spaniard to collapse on his back. moment of triumph.
“It’s a dream come true for me. It’s great to win…to write history in this beautiful tournament,” said Alcaraz holding the trophy at the handover ceremony.
Summarizing what it meant to play a part in a match billed as the “collision of generations”, Alcaraz then paid tribute to the man who was denied a fifth consecutive Wimbledon title.
“I have to congratulate Novak. It’s amazing to play against him. You inspire me. (When) I was born, you were winning tournaments.”
Djokovic, who won his first ATP title when Alcaraz was three, looked set to win an eighth Wimbledon men’s title when he blew his rival away in the opening set.
Playing ahead of James Bond actor Daniel Craig, Djokovic must have thought he left his rival shaken and agitated as he took a 5-0 lead in the blink of an eye.
But once Alcaraz managed to break away from the members and get their name on the scoreboard after 32 minutes, the contest the world had been waiting to see finally came to life.
Showing he was ready and waiting to tame the man he had described as “physically a beast; mentally a beast” heading into the final, the Spaniard broke for the first time to a 2-0 second lead.
But Djokovic isn’t known for being a human backboard for nothing and, with so much to go on that result – the Serb was also looking to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 majors – he let loose a powerful roar that shook Center Court when it collapsed in the following game.
It sent the adrenaline pumping through both players as they were soon caught trading brutal blows in a jaw-dropping 29-shot rally that ended with Alcaraz firing a long backhand.
As the fans yelled at every Alcaraz winner and the Serb’s mistakes, a defiant Djokovic listened to him urging the crowd to show him some respect.
The second set was dripping with drama as Djokovic slipped and slipped again and again as he tried to deal with a feast of dropshots from Alcaraz that kept coming up.
At 3-3, Djokovic was left rolling on the turf after tripping while continuing such an effort.
Although he managed to get the ball over the net, he was still lying on his back and could only watch in awe as the ball returned to his own half after Alcaraz stole a winner almost with his back to the net.
The jubilant crowd rose to greet the young contender who was starting to feel more and more comfortable on the slippery surface as he looked to end Djokovic’s incredible 34-game winning streak on the most famous stage tennis has to offer.
With no player daring to blink, the set turned into a tiebreak where Djokovic was left furious on the baseline at 4-5 after receiving a time violation warning from referee Fergus Murphy for taking more than the 25 seconds allowed.
Two points later, the Serb was close to taking a two-set lead to love, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Instead, Alcaraz was hailed by the roaring crowd as he produced a searing return of serve to win one of the highest quality sets seen at this year’s Championships.
Chants of “Carlos, Carlos, Carlos” rose to a crescendo when, at 3-1 in the third set, Alcaraz pushed Djokovic to 13 points before finally breaking his seventh break point in a mental and physical battle that lasted for 26 minutes.
It pierced a hole in Djokovic’s aura of invincibility and, although the second seed came back to take the fourth set, his mind and body let him down in the fifth, leaving the champion ‘US Open Alcaraz celebrate a second Grand Slam triumph.
“I thought I would have problems with you only on clay and hard courts but maybe not on grass, but now it’s obviously a different story than this year. Congratulations. Amazing way to adapt to the surface “, Djokovic told his winner.
“You may have played once or twice before Wimbledon this year on grass and it’s amazing what you’ve done.”