Carlos Alcaraz, aged 20, beat Novak Djokovic in a five-set epic match on Sunday to win the Wimbledon Championship.
Alcaraz put aside a poor start to end Djokovic’s 34-match winning streak at Wimbledon by beating him 1-6, 7-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in an engaging, back-and-forth final, claiming his first championship at the All England Club and second Grand Slam trophy overall.
The No. 1-ranked Alcaraz prevented Djokovic from what would have been a record-tying eighth title, and fifth in a row, at the grass-court tournament. Djokovic also was kept from claiming his 24th career major.
Instead of Djokovic, a 36-year-old from Serbia, becoming the oldest male champion at Wimbledon in the Open era, Alcaraz became the third-youngest. The age gap between the two was the widest in any men’s Slam final since 1974. Spain’s King Felipe VI was also in the royal box at Wimbledon to watch Alacaraz win.
It was a second major for Alcaraz following his US Open title last year. The result will also spark feverish speculation over the start of a generational shift, with Djokovic carrying the torch of the ‘Big Three’ now that Roger Federer is retired and Rafael Nadal is sidelined, perhaps permanently.
Australian Open and French Open champion Djokovic had not only been been bidding to equal Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles, but also match Margaret Court’s all-time mark of 24 Slams.
When he won his first major at the Australian Open in 2008, Alcaraz was still three months shy of his fifth birthday.
Djokovic was playing in his ninth final at Wimbledon and 35th at the majors, while for Alcaraz it was just a second in the Slams following his US Open triumph.
The Serb went into the match not having lost on Centre Court since his 2013 final defeat to Andy Murray and he hit with relentless precision in the first set.
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 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 argued with umpire Fergus Murphy over his monitoring of the shot clock and did little to endear himself with the crowd by taking a lengthy toilet break before the fourth set.
However, the break worked wonders as the Serb broke twice in the set, levelling the final courtesy of Alcaraz’s seventh double fault of the final.
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.