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  • Writer's pictureFlow Australia

New king Alcaraz downs Djokovic to wear Wimbledon crown

Carlos Alcaraz celebrates his epic Wimbledon victory over Novak Djokovic. Picture: Alberto Pezzali.

Australian Wimbledon great Rod Laver has led the tributes to Carlos Alcaraz who defeated 23-time grand slam champion Novak Djokovic to win the men's title and launch a new era.

The 20-year-old, 16 years Djokovic's junior, recovered from losing the opening five games in a nervy start to inflict the champion's first defeat on Centre Court for a decade.

It was his second grand slam, after winning the US Open last year, but Djokovic was not in New York due to Covid-19 regulations barring the unvaccinated Serb. 

In a titanic, see-saw four-hour, 42-minute struggle -the longest match of the tournament - Alcaraz prevailed 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 3-6 6-4 in Sunday's final.

The Spaniard also denied Djokovic matching Australian Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam wins and Roger Federer's eight Wimbledon titles, as he retained his world No.1 ranking.

Laver, who won seven Wimbledon titles including four singles championships, responded: "Congratulations on your first Wimbledon crown Carlos Alcaraz.

"You certainly found your feet on grass this summer, an astonishing achievement against one of the greatest champions ever, Novak Djokovic. I'm sure there will be many more magnificent battles between you two."

The match lived up to expectations with high quality from both players. It was tennis royalty watched by the British, Spanish and Hollywood versions, with the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children, King Felipe VI and Brad Pitt in attendance.

"It is a dream come true," Alcaraz told the Centre Court crowd. "To play a legend in our sport, for a boy, 20 years old, I am really proud."

Turning to Djokovic he said: "I started playing tennis watching you. Since I was born, you were winning tournaments."

Quite how that made Djokovic feel can only be guessed, though he smiled. Earlier, the Serb had been overcome with emotion as he gestured to his family and thanked them for their support.   

To Alcaraz, he said: "I thought I would have trouble with you only on clay, and maybe hard court, but not on grass. It is a different story obviously, amazing.

"What quality at the end of the match when you had to serve it out. You deserve it. Congratulations."

Such a conclusion seemed unlikely at the start of the afternoon as Djokovic established a 5-0 lead with Alcaraz making error after error.

When the 20-year-old finally got on the scoresheet at 1-5 the crowd, which largely barracked for him, roared with relief as much as joy.

Djokovic served out to take the set in 34 minutes.

The second stanza had a different tune with Alcaraz breaking early to take a 2-0 lead. Djokovic quickly levelled and with the Spaniard's howitzer forearm finding the target the set moved inexorably towards a tiebreak.

It took more than an hour to get there, and when it arrived Djokovic took a 3-0 lead. But Alcaraz came back. Saving a set-point at 5-6 he took the break 8-6. 

It was the first time Djokovic had lost a grand slam tiebreak in 15 attempts, dating back to the second round of the Australian Open.

Alcaraz gained an early break in the third and a second after a titanic 26-minute fifth game in which there were 13 deuces before the Spaniard clinched his seventh break point for a 4-1 lead. He sealed the set 6-1 and Djokovic went for a comfort break.

When he came back he took the fourth set 6-3. Momentum seemed to have had swung back the Serb's way.

But when Alcaraz broke in the third game of the final set, Djokovic lost his cool, smashing his racquet against the net post and breaking it, ensuring another code violation warning.

Soon after, he had also lost his title.


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