Algarez stunned to win Wimbledon again against Djokovic

After years of false starts, men’s tennis finally has a proper battle between the generations.

In a startling comeback that rocked the All England Club’s venerable Center Court, 20-year-old Spanish star Carlos Algarz defeated Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final to break the game in his brief career. Grass, widely recognized as the greatest of all time in the game, was long considered his back lawn.

Apart from chasing a Grand Slam streak, Djokovic will aim to crush the dreams of another player challenging his grip on the game, which has so far won 23 Grand Slam titles. Algarza is the next group of players expected to move the game beyond the Big Three era, an era that included Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and Djokovic reigned longer than many expected.

Algaraz won last year’s US Open in swashbuckling, acrobatic fashion, delivering an announcement that men’s tennis was about to be shaken up by an extraordinary feat. This year, he withdrew from the Australian Open due to injury and lost to Djokovic in the semifinals at the French Open. But the buzz around him and his future has not abated.

“It’s great for the new generation to see me beat him and make them think they can do it,” Alcaraz said.

Struggling to avoid embarrassment after the first set, Alcaraz rediscovered his unique combination of speed, power and touch, and discovered the nuances of grass-court tennis at the right time.

He stormed back into the match with an epic, 85-minute second set.

He took control of the match midway through the third set and then in the fourth set Djokovic, the four-time defending champion and seven-time winner of Wimbledon, rediscovered the footing that had long underpinned his success.

Djokovic is as dangerous as ever when facing down, but Algaraz rose once again to win 1-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4. Djokovic’s endless talents and skills have also broken his spirit.

As Algaraz hit a backhand to break Djokovic’s serve early in the fifth set, the Serb smashed his racquet into the net post as momentum swirled one last time. A few points earlier, he squandered a chance to regain control, swinging a floating forehand into the middle of the court and sending it into the net. Now,​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ГўВгазначение программы.

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Last month, Djokovic, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, finally beat longtime rivals Nadal and Federer. But the defeat cost him one of the few prizes he has ever achieved – the first player since 1969 to achieve a men’s singles Grand Slam, winning all four majors in a single year. He set the record in a competition two years ago. This time, at 36, an age when most champions retire to the broadcast booth, he was eight matches away.

It seemed so close, but in the final game, Alcaraz revealed why they’ve been making such a fuss about him for so long. He finished off Djokovic with his alluring weapons – a silky drop shot, an artful topspin lob, a blasting serve and finally a ripping forehand that Djokovic reached but couldn’t lift over the net.

Algaraz fell to the ground and rolled on the grass, hands over his face in disbelief. He hugged Djokovic at the net, shook hands with the umpire, picked up a loose ball from the grass and tossed it into the crowd before heading to the stands to hug his parents and his coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero.

“At this level, it’s amazing to me to beat Novak at his best, to make history, to beat him on that court for 10 years,” Alcaraz said.

Nadal, one of Algarez’s many mentors and the great Spaniard who beat another Wimbledon icon, Federer, in 2008, wrote on social media that Algarez had brought “great joy” to Spanish tennis.

“A very strong hug, and enjoy the moment champ!!!” Nadal wrote that he missed the tournament due to recent hip and abdominal surgery.

The loss created a rare moment for Djokovic, who on this day at least admitted he had lost to a great player.

“A tough one to swallow,” Djokovic said of the loss. He broke down in tears as he saw his son smiling at him from a courtside seat. “Thank you for supporting me,” he told his family. “I’ll give you a big hug and we can all love each other.”

On Saturday, seven-time Grand Slam winner Mats Wilander, now one of the most respected voices in the game, beat Alcaraz and beat Djokovic’s chances of winning four Grand Slams in 2023 at 90 percent.

“He has a lot of weapons,” Wilander said. “He knows everything there is to know about the game. He has everything down to a science. The opponents are not ready for him.

In the first minutes of Sunday’s final, Wilander looked prophetic. The most important men’s match of the tennis calendar was a center court match between two players in completely different conditions.

It was a typical July Sunday for Djokovic. But Algaraz, playing in his first Wimbledon final, was overweight after the stress-induced full-body spasms he suffered during his semi-final clash with Djokovic at the French Open last month. That was the first major moment when top-ranked and world No. 1 Algaraz failed to live up to his hype.

Sunday was different. But not at first.

From the opening moments, Djokovic pinned Algarez in the back corner of the court with low slicing shots, making Algarez unable to attack. He crushed service returns.

Djokovic was set before the half-hour mark and led 2-0 in the second game.

Algarez’s chance to salvage her first Wimbledon final came down to a crucial tiebreaker at the end of an epic second set that lasted three times as long as the first. Tiebreakers are Djokovic’s specialty. Entering the final, he had won 14 Grand Slam events.

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The moment brought out the best in both players – big serves to the corners; bad drop shots; Crisp, point-saving winners shut down the opponent at the net — and with the packed crowd, alternating chants of “Novak, Novak,” and “Carlos, Carlos” echo around the center court overhangs.

Then when Djokovic looked set to take a two-set lead, he sent two backhands into the net to give Algarez a chance to draw even. Algaraz then tied the match at one set apiece with a backhand return of Djokovic’s serve.

Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson once said that everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

Algaraz hits a shot to Djokovic’s jaw and Djokovic feels it. The third set turned into a series of Djokovic errors. He struggled to regain a foothold in the match, going 13 deuces midway through a game that ended with a Djokovic forehand.

As he usually does when he’s down, Djokovic took a long bathroom break before the fourth set. He splashes water on his face and talks to himself in the mirror. Usually, he emerges as a different player, and Sunday was no different, as he seized the effort once again, breaking Algarez’s serve midway through and getting back on his head to take the set as Algarez, once again fierce and defensive, double-faulted.

After about four hours, they were back where they started. The nearly five-hour drama comes down to a handful of moments.

“He surprised me. He surprised everyone,” Djokovic said of Alcaraz, who, in his view, took elements of Nadal’s and Federer’s styles and developed a talent on grass — his grass! — much sooner than he expected. “I’m a guy like him. Never played as a player.”

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