Carlos Alcaraz waves to fans from the balcony after beating Novak Djokovic in the men's singles final of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Sunday, July 16, 2023.(Photo | AP)
Carlos Alcaraz waves to fans from the balcony after beating Novak Djokovic in the men's singles final of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Sunday, July 16, 2023.(Photo | AP)

Game of Tennis has new figurehead in Carlos Alcaraz

Wimbledon has a new champion. The world of men’s tennis has a new figurehead.

Wimbledon has a new champion. The world of men’s tennis has a new figurehead. On Sunday, Carlos Alcaraz danced with Novak Djokovic, the owner of 23 Majors, and emerged triumphant over five sets. The 20-year-old has, at least for the last 18 months, been thought of as the youngster most capable of ending the Rafael Nadal-Djokovic axis. At last year’s US Open, Alcaraz gave a glimpse of his abundant talent when he pocketed his maiden Slam, but it was relatively easy to break the hegemony of the establishment at Flushing Meadows.

Since 2013, seven different men, including Alcaraz, have managed to win a title there. Aching limbs, long seasons and some of the Big Three recovering from injuries had contributed to Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Marin Cilic and Stan Wawrinka winning. So it wasn’t a surprise when Alcaraz won at the Big Apple. Wimbledon, though, has long been the symbol of the domination of the Big Three (Big Four if you want to include Andy Murray). Since Lleyton Hewitt won on the grass in 2002, the parish has been dominated by Roger Federer, Nadal, Murray or Djokovic. In this context, you have to view Alcaraz’s besting of Djokovic over five gruelling sets.

It’s also easy to see why the win/defeat (depending on your worldview) probably has a needle-changing aspect. Djokovic doesn’t lose in a Major after winning the first set. He usually doesn’t lose a tie-break. He usually doesn’t lose five-set matches. Yet, the 20-year-old, 16 years the Serb’s junior, found the creative and destructive combination. At some level, this narrative-altering win has been in the post for some time. The Spaniard is, after all, World No 1. He’s undoubtedly one of the best players to have emerged in men’s tennis in the recent past. Consistency will be key to his longevity. But as of now, he can keep his audience hooked on his fearless, hedonistic brand of tennis.

At the same time, one should know that writing off Djokovic, the World No 2, is a no-no. If anything, this is the challenge he needs to recalibrate himself. The men’s record holder for most Majors has seen off Federer, possibly seen off Nadal, so the chance to go head-to-head with the sport’s heir apparent could be the tonic he needs to elevate his discipline even further. It’s why the next installment of the US Open promises to be a fun ride.

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