Ashraf Ali Siddiqui describes a possible end of reign
Djokovic dethroned – With his king watching him, Carlos Alcaraz, the 20-year old Spaniard dethroned Novak Djokovic in a scintillating Wimbledon final in a grueling match lasting for more than four hours. Djokovic’s defeat in the primary tennis championship is possibly the end of his complete domination in a career that netted him 23 Grand Slam titles. Despite his exceptional talent as an ace tennis player Djokovic was never the favourite of the crowds and the same thing happened at Wimbledon where the spectators yearned to see Alcaraz win. Novak Djokovic was almost unbeatable particularly on a grass court and kept winning for throughout the last decade. Seven-time winner, four-time defending champion, Novak Djokovic, had not lost on Church Road Centre Court for just ten years however fell in his English garden, where he had been undefeated for 34 matches and his retirement in the quarter-finals of the 2017 edition.
Matteo Berrettini in 2021 and Nick Kyrgios in 2022 had tried to compete with Djokovic by snatching a set from him but their inexperience had played tricks on them. While the Centre Court crowd jeered the Serbian, Djokovic started his quest to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Major singles titles but he took a long time to deliver each serve and cheered when he was handed a time violation by umpire Fergus Murphy. When he was broken in the decider, Djokovic demolished his racket and dented the net post in an explosive temper tantrum.
It had all started off so differently as Djokovic stormed into a 5-0 lead – saving a break point in the opening game but then seizing two breaks of his own, winning a couple of marathon rallies on the way. Djokovic took the opener 6-1 and he had never previously lost at Wimbledon after winning the first set. Alcaraz looked frustrated and wild, the crowd roared every point he managed to win but it felt like sympathy at this point. But if the first set was a whipping, the second was gripping. The Spaniard had suffered a physical breakdown in their last meeting and lost in four sets in the French Open semi-final. Here he showed the mental strength to grind down Djokovic, breaking him early in the second and holding himself together when the Serb struck back immediately. The rest of the set went with serve but it was certainly eventful – Djokovic applauded an Alcaraz backhand winner and then the champ crashed into his opponent’s seat as he made a full-length dive in vain.
Yet they got both as the young Alcaraz from Murcia, 16 years Djokovic’s junior, staged an outstanding comeback. First, he ended the champion’s run of 15 consecutive Grand Slam tie-break wins and then by clinching an epic 26-minute game which included 13 deuces to break the champion’s serve on his way to a crushing third-set success. After Djokovic bit back in the fourth, U.S Open champion Alcaraz raised his game still further to clinch the decider. Alcaraz has the daring, the imagination and the sheer power to be an all-time great of this sport. He thoroughly rattled Djokovic usually so level-headed in times of strife.
The Serb, who played in his 35th final in a Grand Slam tournament; an absolute record for men and women alike suffered the lightning of a kid without complex. For his first at this stage of the competition Alcaraz, the world number one had the maturity of a champion accustomed to final games, he who was only playing his second Grand Slam final after his winning the US Open 2022. He has completely forgotten the semi-final of the last French Open lost against the Serb in four sets and his stress cramps contracted at the end of the second set. Alcaraz becomes the third youngest winner in London in the Open era after Boris Becker (17 years old and 18 years old and 1985 and 1986) and Björn Borg (20 years old in 1976). Winner of Queen’s, a week before the big London meeting, Alcaraz has certainly proved his worth. The Weekender