Alcaraz Wins Wimbledon

    Five weeks ago, Spanish phenom Carlos Alcaraz got his first crack at the greatest of all time, Novak Djokovic. It was on the Grand Slam stage. He crumbled. Alcaraz experienced full-body cramps at the start of the third set and later admitted that they came on due to the nerves of facing a legend on such a big stage. Mentally, he wasn’t ready for the moment. Djokovic steamrolled Alcaraz, who could barely move, over the final two sets and won his record-setting 23rd Grand Slam title.

    Carlos Alcaraz beats Novak Djokovic to win Wimbledon, his second major trophy : NPR

    Photo Cred: NPR

    On Sunday, Alcaraz rolled into the Wimbledon final on Centre Court to get another crack at Djokovic; the challenge was harder. Djokovic had not lost a match on Centre Court since the 2013 final against Andy Murray. He came in as the four-time defending champion and a seven-time champion overall. Picking up a win would tie Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles. Meanwhile, Alcaraz was playing in just his fourth career grass court tournament and had never even made the quarterfinals of Wimbledon until last Friday. It had been just a few short weeks since his body had betrayed him on the biggest stage. It didn’t matter; he showed up.

    Alcaraz knocked off Djokovic in a five-set epic by a score of 1-6, 7-6(8), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, in a match that was four hours and forty-two minutes. It is the second major title for the Spaniard, who will defend his U.S. Open crown next month in New York. This match was an instant classic for a multitude of reasons. Historically, it didn’t feel like a passing of the torch, as Djokovic is still one of the two best players in the world and will be competing for titles soon. It did feel like the announcement of a new king. Repeatedly, young challengers and up-and-comers have gotten a crack at the “Big Three” of Djokovic, Federer, and Rafael Nadal, and time and time have failed. Alcaraz is the only one to prevail on such a big stage.

    Carlos Alcaraz Defeats Novak Djokovic in Wimbledon Men's Singles Final

    Photo Cred: People

    Djokovic had his chances to win, and he was not as consistent in the big moments as he typically is. Two missed backhands in the second set tiebreak, one on set point, will keep him up over the next few weeks. So will the missed forehand swing volley on break point in the fifth set. It’s an easy put away that would have put the Serbian in charge in the decider? But that’s also what makes this moment unprecedented in men’s tennis. For years, challengers were not even close enough to Djokovic to put that kind of pressure on him, to push him to points where he makes those unforced errors, to take him deep in matches where two silly backhands into the net cost him a set.

    The other part of what made this match so incredible is that it highlighted everything about what makes Carlos Alcaraz awesome. Every skill was on display by the young phenom. He was able to generate free points with his serve. Sometimes, it was his big forehand. Other times, it was his deft touch with the drop shot. He showcased the volley skills that have rightly earned him the reputation as the best net finisher in the world. When Djokovic tried to attack, Alcaraz scrambled brilliantly to extend the point, forcing Djokovic errors. The swing volley miss by Djokovic on break point was created by an incredible get deep in the corner that nobody else in the world can get to.

    Carlos Alcaraz using Andy Murray and Roger Federer videos to aid grass game at Queen's | Tennis News | Sky Sports

    Photo Cred: Sky Sports

    Mentally, Alcaraz stayed calm and composed throughout. He showed incredible growth from Roland Garros, where he crumbled under the pressure and the nerves. Physically, he showed that he can go five hours with a man that has won plenty of marathons over his career. Tactically, Alcaraz practically grew up throughout the match. In the first set, he was going for too much on his shots and not playing long rallies (a common mistake against Djokovic). He was making a bunch of unforced errors. But as the second set progressed, Alcaraz figured everything out. He still went big off the attackable balls but became more than willing to extend the rally and stay at the point when Djokovic pushed him back or out wide. He started to mix in the backhand slice as a defensive tactic to slow down and neutralize.

    By the fifth set, he was putting on a show. Every type of shot was on display. In the final service game at 5-4, serving for the championship, Alcaraz missed a drop shot to go down 0-15. Opponents usually give in, and Djokovic can take control, but what does Alcaraz do? He hits another drop shot on the next point, bringing Djokovic to the net, before lobbing the next ball over his head for a winner. Djokovic then hits a backhand passing shot that beats 99% of players for a winner. But Alcaraz sticks the racket out and wins with a stab volley.

    Wimbledon: Carlos Alcaraz dethrones Novak Djokovic to claim historic victory

    Photo Cred: Yahoo

    On match point, he goes to the big serve and forehand combo to force an error. He cements himself as the future king of men’s tennis. Many players have reached the point that Alcaraz made it to on Sunday. Many of them prove not to be worthy challengers of someone like Djokovic. Alcaraz proved that he’s not only a worthy challenger. He’s a worthy champion.

    Troy Finnegan
    Troy Finnegan
    My name is Troy Finnegan and I am a senior studying journalism at the University of Colorado Boulder. I am originally from Broomfield, CO and love to ski, hike, and play golf in my free time. The sports I will be covering are football, basketball, baseball, tennis, and golf.

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