Federer’s tragedy in Alcaraz’s mind: “Please don’t let it happen to you”
LONDON – The image keeps going around the internet over and over again. Championship point for Roger Federer, who at 38 finds himself with the unique opportunity to conquer his 21st Grand Slam and ninth Wimbledon. A woman in the stands with blonde hair, white blouse and sunglasses on her head smiles and raises her finger. She is blissful, because there is only one point left. She shouts, “One more!”.
“Please, Carlos. Don’t let it happen to you. Don’t let what happened to Roger happen to you.”
Is the voice inside Carlos Alcaraz’s head after Federer’s tragedy.
The memory of the 2019 final loomed over the world number one’s mind as he had to close out his historic title at Wimbledon, with Novak Djokovic on the other side of the net, a great specialist in winning matches after he seemed dead.
Four years earlier, with a 8-8 in the fifth set, and having the score against him 40-15, the Serb bravely returned the Swiss’ second serve. His deep return forced the error. 40-30 still, with a match point to save. One more chance for Federer, who rushed up to the net and found a perfect cross-court passing shot from Djokovic. The rest is the well known story of Djokovic lifting the trophy.
So well known and reviewed by Alcaraz. In part, a great warning.
“It’s not exactly something we have reviewed, we just worked very well to try to avoid what happened in Paris. We were very clear about the tactics, and from there we fought for the title,” Juan Carlos Ferrero told CLAY, dressed in elegant frac, ready for the champions’ dinner at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, while the rain fell, which did not arrive in time to close the roof during the final.
“On the bench I was trying to be calm, serene, with my head blank. Once I get up from the bench I feel a tingling, in my belly, in my legs,” Alcaraz said when the chair umpire called time right before it would be his turn to serve for the championship, “It was a difficult moment to manage.”
But moments like these are the ones that test those who want to immortalize themselves in the history of tennis.
Moments like having to go to a fifth set against an almost unbeatable player. “Losing a fourth set against Djokovic and going to a fifth set with him, a lot of statistics come to mind, like the ten years he hasn’t lost on this court,” he confessed.
Or the 77 matches he won at Wimbledon after winning the first set. No defeats in that statistic before this Sunday.
“You see of tough Novak is? The truth is that it has been very difficult to manage. I knew I was going to be fighting for Wimbledon. It’s the hardest match I’ve ever won,” he said.
“And on match point, it’s true that I remembered Federer’s moment. There are so many matches, many finals that Djokovic seemed to be over but in the end he ended up winning them. I’m a guy who has seen a lot of tennis, who has seen a lot of matches, and a player like Federer loosing that match… it’s brutal. I honestly thought about it. I didn’t want the same thing to happen to me. Whatever,” he commented in front of the media, wearing his bucket hat, his lucky accesory.
“Did you see? The bucket hat, the key,” he said.
Fisherman’s hat, yes. And the memory of the Federer’s tragedy.