Carlos Alcaraz meets greatness
LONDON – The Carlos Alcaraz era has begun. No more nerves or cramps. No more fear in moments of pressure. There is a Wimbledon title won with class against the most successful tennis player in the world: ‘It’s a dream come true.”
The Spaniard met greatness. He made a huge step in what he has described as goal in a career that’s just beggining: “my biggest challenge is to become one of the biggest tennis players in history”. By the second he hit the ball with that cross-court forehand and threw himself into the grass unable to believe what had happened. Because what was at stake this Sunday, July 16th on Centre Court at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, was part of the deep history of tennis.
A match that may well be the change of cycle.
Alcaraz didn’t just beat Novak Djokovic after four hours and 42 minutes of play. At just 20 years of age, he redirected the tennis timeline, which has been dominated by a few for two decades now.
That 1-6, 7-6(8-6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 came in the right time and on the right stage. Alcaraz put a stop sign right in the middle of the path full of records that the Serbian was looking for. He also, incidentally, beat his own body and mind, which was burdened with a negative precedent against him, in the Roland Garros semifinal that ended tragically for him.
Because the 23-time Grand Slam champion was a couple of sets away from reaching Margaret Court’s all-time record, from equaling Roger Federer as the top male champion at Wimbledon, from winning his fifth consecutive London crown as Bjorn Borg and the Swiss did.
Alcaraz, with his explosive tennis and varied repertoire, said no to all that historical weight. And with a large percentage of Centre Court in his favor, the one that did not find the feeling with the Serb, who had several unfriendly exchanges with crowd that never respected him as the seven-time champion he is. That atmosphere helped Alcaraz to find himself. Because the Spaniard started with a reminder about his age when the tension of such an important final made him play a terrible first set, with an excessive adrenaline that was not going anywhere.
Thus, two hinge moments at the end of the second set and in the middle of the third: taking a tiebreak (when the Serb had not lost one in a Grand Slam since January) and winning a game that lasted 27 minutes (to take a 4-1 lead into the next set).
The world number one also knocked Djokovic out of the Grand Slam dream, and so Rod Laver will remain as the owner of that valuable argument in men’s tennis, as the only one in the professional era capable of winning all four majors in the same season.
Goals on the horizon that, perhaps, could have played a dirty trick on the Serb, who proved that he is human and not a tennis machine that have drained the power of every opponent he has had in front of him in the lasts major tournaments. Djokovic showed his frustration more than ever in the whole fortnight, annoyed by the cheerful reaction of the crowd when he got a time violation on his serve, and smashing his racquet against the net post when he got broken in the fifth.
Great merit for a 20-year-old who, although as a teenager won the US Open and reached the top of the ranking, on this afternoon of a summer more like spring or autumn, was able to pull off a task that seemed impossible.
Alcaraz won the tournament he dreamed of since he was a child. The favorite of Federer, Rafael Nadal and Djokovic. Also the most desired by Andy Murray, who was in the stands as a witness of history makers. The four of them can already welcome him to the club that remained restricted for many years to those four names. They might pass the baton to the yongster.
Welcome to the Carlitos era.