WIMBLEDON, England — Carlos Alvarez dropped a point in a two-set run against Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final after a poor start.
Let alone a 20-year-old in his second major final against anyone, that kind of deficit is more threatening to anyone than Djokovic, undefeated on Center Court in a decade, looking for a fifth consecutive championship. , and finished eighth overall at the All England Club. A winner of the first two Grand Slams and 23 matches of the year.
Ah, but Algarz, last year’s US Open champion, wanted Djokovic, whom he called « a legend of our sport, » to make the shot. He said it would make winning Wimbledon that much more special. And so Alcaraz said in that tiebreaker “Car-Los! Car Loss!” From the stands his older, more experienced, more skilled opponent’s two-footed nickname « No-le! No-le! » He contested with a cry. After that, Algaraz quickly wrapped up a 32-point, 25-minute match masterpiece.And, crucially, the Spaniard arrived in the crucible of the fifth set.
All together, the no. Algarza, the No. 1 seed, ended Djokovic’s 34-match winning streak at the All England Club, turning the winning streak around and establishing himself as the star people were predicting. He defeated him 1-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in an interesting, back-and-forth final on Sunday. Algaraz won his first title at Wimbledon and second Grand Slam trophy overall.
Algaraz said he became the third-youngest man to win a grass-court major in the Open era that began in 1968, after Boris Becker and Jorn Borg. « We made great rallies, great points. It was a long, long match. Long sets. The mental part was what allowed me to stay there.
« I’ve never played a player like him. Ever, » Djokovic said, a statement from a guy who has competed against Federer and Nadal for so long and so many notable matches.
« There’s no doubt he’s the best player in the world, » Djokovic said.
The age difference between Alcaraz and the 36-year-old Djokovic, who wiped away tears during the trophy ceremony, was the biggest in any men’s Slam final since 1974.
So Algarez has youth on his side, and he did just that when they met in the French Open semifinals last month. Algaras was uncharacteristically short for two sets before stuttering and fading. This time, he had the stamina and strokes to get past Djokovic – and the confidence that he could win.
After Algarez committed nine unforced errors in Djokovic’s two opening sets, showing signs of the nerves that plagued him in Paris, things began to turn around on Sunday. At 4-up in the second set, Djokovic slipped on a worn patch behind the baseline under the royal box, throwing his racket as he fell. During the next transition, Djokovic bent one leg over the other, then pushed his left heel into the net for an extra stretch.
As they head into the tiebreaker, Djokovic’s dominance: he won all six set-enders at Wimbledon leading up to the final, and has won 15 straight in Grand Slam matches.
Undeterred by chair umpire Fergus Murphy’s warning for taking too long to serve, Djokovic took a 6-5 lead. A set point.
But two backhands from Djokovic put Algarez within a point of the set.
« Backhands let me down, » Djokovic would later say.
Algaraz then hit a 118 mph return off the backhand passing winner, holding the pose of his follow-through. As those in the stands rose to roar, Algarez spun with his right hand to his ear, soaking in the moment.
« If I had lost that set, I probably wouldn’t have lifted the trophy, » Alcaraz said. « I probably lost in three sets. »
They were two sets of two hours each.
A set for each.
Now that was a match.
It started to stick.
The fifth game of the third set may have been worth the high price of admission. No man wants to bend. Neither wanted to give anything up. It was a game, yes, but it seemed to make sense.
When Djokovic slammed a forehand into the net — he had dropped serve five times in the match, more than his previous six opponents combined — Algaraz threw his head back and shouted « . Vamos! »
But Djokovic didn’t quit. Pushing this fierce fight to the fifth set, he raised his level again.
One of the many reasons to like Djokovic’s chances at the time: He went into Sunday with a record of 10-1 in five-setters at Wimbledon and 35-9 in all majors.
However, those rivalries are in the past.
Algaras is the future.
He serves a speed of 130 mph. His forehand sledgehammer is unleashed at 100 mph, convincing a spectator, every ounce of strength, every fiber invested in every swing. Smack of fraud and his « Uhhhhhh! » Exhalations of labor — along with gasps from the enthralled audience — echoed around the arena.
He plays as varied as possible, from his volleying ability to well-disguised drop shots that helped him come back in the second and third sets.
Djokovic, meanwhile, has plenty of talent and more muscle memory. So often, he hustles and stretches and almost slides into the splits to get back Alcaraz’s obvious point-end shots in a way that no one else can.
And he’s been there, done that, and Alcaraz, for now, can only dream.
But if this win on a windy and overcast day is any indication, Alcaraz is on track to outdo himself.
He moved ahead with a backhand passing winner to go up 2-1 in the fifth. Djokovic fell during the point, but recovered quickly, slamming his racket into the net post and allowing impact. He destroyed his equipment and received a code violation from Murphy.
« Frustrating at the moment, » Djokovic called it.
They would play for another 24 minutes, but Algaraz never relented, never gave up space, and regardless of skill, the man would have the net all over him. And it was Algarz, not Djokovic, who rolled on the grass with his face covered after the final point, that took home the gold trophy.
« It’s something I’ll never forget, » Alcaraz said. « Of course. »
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