For the first time since the year 2003, a new name from outside the traditional tennis big 4 of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray will be engraved on the prestigious Wimbledon trophy as young Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz got the better of Serbian Djokovic in the five-set final fo the 2023 edition of the coveted grass-court grand slam at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
Many men from outside the familiar suspects have tried to achieve SW19 immortality over the period of the past two decades, only to fall at the final hurdle to one among the four players who have come to define the modern era in the sport of tennis.
Mark Philippoussis, Andy Roddick, Tomas Berdych, Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic, Kevin Anderson, Matteo Berrettini and Nick Kyrgios, all tried their hand at ending the top-4’s domination of the grass crout major, but to no avail.
And just as it seemed like the existing trend was to continue for at least one more year thanks to the indomitable presence of the 36-year-old Djokovic, who also became the most decorated player in the history of men’s tennis with his win at the 2022 French Open in Roland Garros, the 20-year-old Alcaraz announced himself to the world in the most extravagant of fashion.
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It is true that his maiden Wimbledon crown is not in fact Alcaraz’s first grand slam title, as he triumphed at Flushing Meadows last year to pick up his first-ever major trophy. But, the trophy presented to the winner of the All England Championship, steeped in tradition and wreathed in an aura specific and unique to SW19 bestows upon the winner a certificate of merit that nobody can question.
Alcaraz looked rather nervous in his stroke-making in the opening set of the summit clash at the Centre Court on Sunday as Djokovic wrapped up the opener 6-1, breaking the Spaniard twice.
At this moment, all signs pointed towards Djokovic going on to level Federer’s Wimbledon tally of eight titles and Margret Court’s tally of 24-major trophies.
But, Alcaraz had other plans.
Despite being brushed aside in the first set, the young star came back strong in the second set as he got the better of the Serbian on a tiebreaker, which in itself seems like a feat to behold, given Djokovic’s propensity to nearly never surrender tiebreakers. But, the Spaniard pulled the set off the seven-time SW19 winner to take the second set and restore parity to the championship clash.
Riding high on the confidence he instilled in himself after pulling level, Alcaraz demonstrated his ability to mix baseline strokes at break-neck speed with deft drops, held up until the very last moment, in a brilliant and disguised manner to register a whooping 6-1 third set win.
At this point, the Spaniard was a set ahead, but Djokovic did not claim 23 major titles giving up when the odds were stacked against him. In fact, the Serbian has thrived under pressure and has his trophy-laden cabinet to attest to the same.
As the old agade goes, ‘Pressure is a privilege’. And Djokovic is a shining example of how to perform under immense pressure during crunch situations. The Serbian clinched the fourth set 6-3 to push the match into a deciding fifth set, befitting the scale and magnitude of the summit clash at SW19.
As the world held its breath, Alcaraz held his nerve to break Djokovic early in the decider and saved all of his service games to register a 6-4 fifth-set win, thereby earning the right to touch the coveted piece of silverware at the grandest of all stages on the tennis circuit.
There was jubilation in the stands and awe across the world as the 20-year-old breached the old norms of the past two decades to script the beginning of a new chapter at the AELTC.
To put things into perspective, Alcaraz, born in 2003, has never witnessed anyone other than the traditional top-4 of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic or Murray lift the pristine Wimbledon title in his lifetime. Until now! Now, he can look at the man who altered tennis history forever every time he looks in a mirror.