London, July 16 (IANS) The Spanish world No.1 Carlos Alcaraz fought back from a set down to defeat Novak Djokovic in a five-set thriller, claiming his maiden Wimbledon men’s singles title, denying the Serbian legend a fifth consecutive crown at SW19 and prolonging his wait for a 24th major.
Alcaraz, the reigning US Open champion after winning the title last year, came up with an inspired performance to overcome Djokovic for a 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 victory that would now extend his stay at the top of the World Rankings.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” said Alcaraz. “As I said before, of course, it’s great to win, but even if I had lost, I would be really proud of myself for this amazing run. Making history in this beautiful tournament, playing a final against a legend of our sport.
“It’s a dream come true to be able to play on these stages. It’s amazing for a boy, 20 years old, to reach this kind of situation really fast. I’m really, really proud of myself and the team that I have. The work we put in every day, to be able to lift this,” Alcaraz said in his post-match address.
Alcaraz recovered from a shaky start to deliver a high-quality championship-match display and become just the fifth man in the Open Era to win multiple major titles before turning 21.
With this win, Alcaraz snapped Djokovic’s 34-match winning streak at Wimbledon with his four-hour, 42-minute victory. The 20-year-old, known for his huge groundstrokes and delicate touches, lit up the All England Club courts this fortnight and became just the fourth active male player to lift the trophy at the All England Club, after Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
It was a disappointing end for Djokovic after he came to Wimbledon after winning the Australian and French Open titles. Djokovic was trying to win his fifth successive crown at Wimbledon and an eighth title in the grass-court major to equal Roger Federer’s record.
Seven-time Wimbledon winner Djokovic made a sizzling start in the final as he surged to a 5-0 lead and claimed the first set 6-1. But Alcaraz dug deep to clinch a crucial second-set tie-break. He then surged to a 2-1 lead and then Djokovic came back to level scores. Alcaraz however, held off a Djokovic comeback to claim the title.
With the pair going toe to toe in a series of scintillating exchanges on the slick Wimbledon grass, their third ATP head-to-head encounter frequently had the crowd on its feet on Centre Court.
Djokovic got off to a brisk start when he converted two of his six break points to win the first set 6-1. Alcaraz, whose huge groundstrokes helped him reach his maiden Wimbledon final for the loss of just two sets, was unable to penetrate his opponent’s defence with any kind of regularity.
Alcaraz made a fast response, and he engineered one by claiming his first break of serve in the second game of the second set. It was just the fourth time that Djokovic dropped his serve. Djokovic immediately reasserted himself as he broke back in the following game, before crucially outlasting his younger opponent in a mesmerising 29-shot rally when breakpoint down at 1-2, 30/40.
The set went into a tiebreak in which Djokovic looked on course for his 15th consecutive tie-break win before Alcaraz held firm behind serve before powering a backhand return winner on his first set point.
Alcaraz continued his resurgence in the third set as he continued the momentum through to the third set as he continued to showcase his full repertoire of shotmaking. Alcaraz opened up a 3-1 lead with a single break as he combined his forehand power with some stunning deft touches to keep the pressure on Djokovic, who made 18 unforced errors to lose the third set 6-1.
Djokovic had no intention of fading away in his bid for a historic 24th major, however, and the Serbian raised his game again in the fourth set of what was rapidly becoming an all-time classic final on Centre Court. He recovered from 15/40 to hold in the second game but then rediscovered his rock-solid form from the first set, breaking Alcaraz twice to recapture the momentum and set up a one-set shootout for the title.
With the match going into the fifth set, Djokovic had the advantage because of his vast experience and success in Grand Slams. But Alcaraz let slip a breakpoint in the opening game and then found himself under pressure in the rally at 30/40 down in the next game. At such a pivotal moment, it was Alcaraz’s athletic ability while chasing a wide ball which came to his rescue, as he forced Djokovic to net a forehand drive volley on a high ball.
The 20-year-old Spaniard continued to persist and gained the crucial break of the final set. Alcaraz dropped just five further points on serve in the match as he completed a famous victory.