From a set down, Carlos Alcaraz showed grit, determination and fire to overcome the challenge posed by Novak Djokovic, the man with most number of Grand Slam titles, to win the 2023 Wimbledon. Alcaraz recovered from dropping the first set and saving a set point in the second to win 1-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 after four hours and 42 minutes on Centre Court. It was a second major for the 20-year-old Spaniard following his US Open title last year as he became Wimbledon’s third youngest men’s champion.
Australian Open and French Open champion Djokovic had been bidding to equal Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles, match Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24 Slams and become the All England Club’s oldest men’s champion.Alcaraz, who had been crippled by body cramping in his loss to Djokovic in the French Open semi-final in June, was unable to settle in the first set and let a break point slip away in the seven-minute opening game.
Djokovic took advantage and raced into a 5-0 lead on the back of a double break before the Spaniard got on the board. It was too little, too late as Djokovic claimed the opening set with a smash. But Alcaraz finally freed himself of his shackles and broke for 2-1 in the second set.
Djokovic hit straight back in the third game before saving a break point in the fourth, coming out on top of a 29-shot rally.
The Serb was hit with a time violation in the tie-break before seeing a set point saved. Alcaraz needed no second invitation when he carved out and converted a set point to level the contest with a backhand winner.
The marathon set had taken 85 minutes as Djokovic’s run of 15 tie-breaks won in a row at the majors ended. Alcaraz broke in the opening game of the third set and again after an exhausting 26-minute fifth game, which went to 13 deuces and saw Djokovic save six break points before he cracked on the seventh.
Alcaraz backed it up with a rapid-fire service game which took just two minutes in comparison and broke again against the dispirited defending champion to move two sets to one ahead.
Djokovic broke twice in the fourth set, levelling the match courtesy of Alcaraz’s seventh double fault of the final.
But Djokovic wasted a golden chance to break for 2-0 in the decider with a wild smash and Alcaraz made him pay, breaking for 2-1.
A frustrated Djokovic collected another code violation for destroying his racquet against the net post before he slipped 3-1 down. Alcaraz was not to be denied and he claimed a famous victory when Djokovic buried a forehand in the net.
“There’s not much to talk about that,” Djokovic said later. “Second one was frustration. I had break points in the second game. Yeah, just tough, tough couple of points. He played amazing to break my serve, which was enough to win the fifth. The first one was the time violation, so yeah. Not a great moment again, but you just kind of have to accept it.”
The 23-time Grand Slam winner was further prodded on the subject. “It was a frustration in the moment. I answered to your colleague two minutes ago about that. There’s not much to say about that,” he said.
With AFP inputs
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