If Carlos Alcaraz had been more patient, perhaps he could have just waited for Novak Djokovic to fade away. The 20-year-old Alcaraz is 16 years younger than the great champion and there will likely come a day when Djokovic retires or declines and Alcaraz can claim the tennis empire as his own.
But Alcaraz has never shown a tendency to wait. When he won the US Open in September at the age of 19 years and 129 days, he became the youngest male player to reach No. 1 and the second only to Pete Sampras at the age of 19 years and 28 days. was young. open era. Djokovic was absent from the event.
One more win would make him the fifth male Open-era player to win multiple Grand Slam titles before his 21st birthday. What better way than to grab it now from Djokovic’s steely grip? Boxing says you have to convincingly beat the champion to claim the throne, and Sunday’s Wimbledon men’s singles final could be the equivalent of a 15-round heavyweight bout on grass courts.
Alcaraz, who defeated Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 in Friday’s semi-finals, and Djokovic, who also defeated Yannik Siner in straight sets, could be a high-profile matchup. It’s first versus second, the 7-1 winner of the Wimbledon final, who has won 23 Grand Slam tournaments, against a young Spaniard making his first appearance.
It’s also a network programmer’s dream, and the ultimate determinant of whether Djokovic will win his fifth consecutive Wimbledon title and extend his record of 23 Grand Slam tournament wins, or whether the hard-hitting rookie will overcome past tensions and rise to the throne. It is also a match against.
Alcaraz wants it now and wants to face Djokovic in front of millions of spectators. Not against a little-known player like Casper Ruud, his opponent in the US Open final, which was mostly one-sided.
“It’s even more special to play the final against a legend of our sport,” said Alcaraz. “If I win, it would be great for me not only to win the Wimbledon title, but to achieve it against Novak. I always say, if you want to be the best, be the best. must be defeated.”
Alcaraz and Djokovic have met only twice on the court, winning each. Alcaraz won the clay-court best-of-three at the 2022 Madrid Masters. Perhaps Djokovic’s victory was more eloquent. It was the semifinals of last month’s French Open, a match that included a notable tennis second set. But then Alcaraz started having convulsions all over his body. At first it was thought to be due to heat or lack of water. But Alcaraz admitted it was nerve-wracking.
He managed to pull through, but what was devolving into a classic soon faded for Djokovic, who won his second major title of the year, the French Open.
“He’s done nothing wrong on the court,” Alcaraz said. “Physically he’s a beast. Mentally he’s a beast.”
Alcaraz was unafraid to repeat his last encounter with Djokovic, promising to do some brain teasers to deal with the pressure after pushing Medvedev off the court on Friday. But when he stepped into the Coliseum on Center Court in front of a sort of history-hungry crowd, his intellectual game and confidence were unmatched, especially against a player of talent, determination and experience like Djokovic. All full mantras can become worthless.
Sunday will be unlike any game Alcaraz has experienced. Even in the past major final against Rude. Djokovic will be in his 35th major final. In Alcaraz’s mind, Djokovic may be taking out the trash.
“For Novak, it’s another day and another moment,” Alcaraz said. “For me, I think it will be the best moment of my life.”
One element of the conspiracy goes back a few days, when Alcaraz’s father was spotted videotaping Djokovic’s workouts. Alcaraz dismissed the notion that it would give him a competitive advantage. All the video evidence he needs about Djokovic’s tactics and tendencies is easily accessible from Djokovic’s past eight Wimbledon finals on television.
When Mr. Alcaraz was questioned about the matter at a press conference, it was presented as an awkward moment. But he didn’t hide it.
“Oh, maybe that’s true,” he said. “My father is a big tennis fan. You can see Djokovic live, yes, it’s probably true that he filmed the session.”
More important than the practice court is what happens on Center Court. Alcaraz certainly looked ready on Friday, using a combination of a commanding forehand and a deft backhand slice to win both and surpass Medvedev, who lost both.
“Interesting match,” muttered Medvedev. “You can’t say for sure who will win.”
We can say that the winner will be one of the two best in the world.