Carlos Alcaraz has snapped 23-time grand slam champion Novak Djokovic's long Wimbledon streak to claim his second grand slam title in a stunning men's decider. Both players showed their class on and off the court but it was the 20-year-old Spaniard who came through a thrilling contest, after prevailing 1-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 after four hours and 42 minutes on Centre Court.
Djokovic had not lost in his previous 34 matches - or since 2010 on Centre Court - but his run came to an end in an absorbing encounter as Alacaraz denied the Serb a record-equalling eighth Wimbledon title and 24th career major that would have matched Aussie great Margaret Court's all-time record. Alcaraz recovered from dropping the first set and had to save a set point in the second, as the young gun demonstrated once again how strong his mental resolve is.
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Djokovic at one point argued with the chair umpire about starting the service clock while he was going to get a towel, then copped boos from the crowd after a lengthy bathroom break before the fourth set, in which he found a way to regroup and force a deciding set. Djokovic wasted a golden chance to break for 2-0 in the decider after a wild smash and Alcaraz made him pay after breaking to go 2-1 up.
A frustrated Djokovic collected a code violation for destroying his racquet against the net post before he slipped 3-1 down and a famous victory was complete for Alcaraz when Djokovic buried a forehand into the net. Djokovic was clearly devastated but showed his class in a runner-up speech in which he heaped praise on his young opponent.
"What a quality at the end of the match when you had to serve it out," said Djokovic, who had been chasing a fifth successive Wimbledon crown. "You came up with some big plays in the big situation and you absolutely deserve it. Amazing.
"As for me, you never like to lose matches like these but I guess when all the emotions are settled I'll have to be very grateful." Alcaraz also showed his humble qualities in victory after paying respect to Djokovic and the role the Serb has played in the Spaniard's career.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 16, 2023
"It is a dream come true," Alcaraz told the Centre Court crowd. "To play a legend in our sport, for a boy, 20 years old, I am really proud." Turning to face Djokovic he then said: "You inspire me a lot. I started playing tennis watching you. Since I was born you were already winning tournaments.
"It is amazing. I fall in love with grass right now. It's amazing." Tennis fans couldn't get enough of the superb post-match scenes, with both players showered with praise for the classy moment.
— Bilnation (@Bilaldinho10_) July 16, 2023
So talented. So brave. So intelligent. So classy. Congratulations champion @carlosalcaraz 🇪🇸
— Angie (@angela_vince) July 16, 2023
Wow, talk about gracious in defeat. @DjokerNole with a mighty performance in an epic #WimbledonFinal yet he says so many classy comments in honoring @carlosalcaraz. Amazing tennis. Amazing sportsmanship. What a treat. pic.twitter.com/SQ5BIpR8HS
— Sean K. Jensen (@seankjensen) July 16, 2023
— Timafi (@Timafi2) July 16, 2023
— Orimili 🌹 (@KnightMj12) July 16, 2023
Carlos Alcaraz becomes third youngest men's champion
Rafael Nadal took to Twitter to salute Alcaraz after the win, praising him for bringing "immense joy" to Spanish tennis and telling him to "enjoy the moment". 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.
The match lived up to expectations with high quality from both players. It was tennis royalty watched by the British, Spanish and Hollywood versions, with the Prince and Princess of Wales and their children, King Felipe VI and Brad Pitt in attendance.
Djokovic was also overcome with emotion after gesturing to his family and thanking them for their support, with the Serb choking back tears as he spoke to his son up in the stands. "I love you," he said before adding after a long pause: "Thank you for supporting me and I'll give you a big hug, and we can all love each other. Thank you."
To Alcaraz, he said: "I thought I would have trouble with you only on clay, and maybe hard court, but not on grass. It is a different story obviously, amazing. What quality at the end of the match when you had to serve it out. You deserve it. Congratulations."
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