Carlos Alcaraz has ended Novak Djokovic’s remarkable Wimbledon run of success, fighting his way to a stunning 1-6, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 triumph for a first title at the grass court Grand Slam and second at the majors.
Alcaraz, 20, regrouped on Sunday from a poor first set and saved a set point in the second to win a sensational battle of the tennis generations against his 36-year-old opponent in four hours 42 minutes on first match point.
He snapped Djokovic’s winning tiebreak run at the majors at 15 in the second set, and won an extraordinary fifth game in the third set, which lasted 26 minutes. Then he claimed the deciding break for 2-1 in the final set to deny Djokovic a fifth straight title at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
It was a strong turnaround for the Spanish youngster, who had crashed in straight sets against Djokovic in the recent French Open semifinals, overwhelmed by the occasion.
Alcaraz became the third-youngest Wimbledon champion in the Open Era which started in 1968, behind Boris Becker (17) and Bjorn Borg (20).
He retained the world number-one position ahead of Djokovic and showed that he can shine on grass, having also won the Queen’s Club tune-up event last month.
Alcaraz’s previous major title came at last year’s US Open.
“This is a dream come true for me,” Alcaraz said. “It’s great to win, but even if I would have lost, I would have been really proud of myself.
“Making history in this beautiful tournament, playing a final against a legend of our sport. I’m really, really proud of myself, the team that I have, the work that we put in every day.”
He added in the direction of Djokovic: “I started playing tennis watching you. Since I was born you were already winning tournaments. It is amazing.”
Djokovic, meanwhile, missed what would have been record-tying five Wimbledon titles in a row – eight overall there and 24 at all Grand Slams in his first Wimbledon centre court defeat since 2013.
The loss in a record 35th major final also ended his bid for a calendar year Grand Slam ahead of the US Open, having won the Australian and French Open tournaments earlier in the year.
Djokovic was graceful in defeat, saying: “It was not so good for me but good for Carlos. I thought I would have trouble against you on clay and hard court but not on grass court. What a way to adapt to the surface, amazing.
“Praise to Carlos. What quality at the end of the match. You deserve it absolutely.”
“You never like to lose matches like these but when the emotions are settled, I must still be grateful. It’s a tough one to swallow, when you are so close, but these are the moments you work for every day. I didn’t win but lost against the better player.” (AlJazeera)