In a generational battle matching the king of men’s tennis and the young Spanish star intent on taking his throne, Carlos Alcaraz knocked off Novak Djokovic in a thrilling five-set match 1-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 to win his first Wimbledon championship and his second major overall.
Alcaraz’s victory at the All England Club denied Djokovic the 24th Grand Slam title of his career — and his third in 2023.
Alcaraz, 20, was the youngest Wimbledon finalist since 2006. The last time the 36-yesr-old Djokovic lost at Wimbledon, Alcaraz was only 10 years old.
After Djokovic breezed through a 6-1 first set, the second set defined the type of thrilling back-and-forth action expected of this emerging rivalry. Djokovic initially went down 2-0 before battling back, and the set stayed on serve until the tiebreaker. Alcaraz had to fight off one set point from Djokovic before finally prevailing 9-7 in the tiebreaker to even the match at one set apiece. It also ended Djokovic’s stunning Grand Slam streak of 15 straight tiebreakers won.
Alcaraz continued the momentum by breaking Djokovic in the opening game of the third set. He broke him again to go up 4-1 in what was instantly hailed one of the most thrilling games in Wimbledon history. The numbers don’t lie: 33 points, 13 deuces, nearly 27 minutes. Alcaraz fought off eight game points from Djokovic — and had seven break points himself — before winning. He then made quick work of the rest of the set to win 6-1 and take a two sets-to-one lead in the match.
Djokovic didn’t go quietly. After a long break between the third and fourth sets, he came back refocused and broke Alcaraz in the fifth game. Djokovic cruised from there to send the match to a decisive fifth set.
Alcaraz spent the first set determined to meet Djokovic’s ground strokes inside the baseline and to strike nearly every ball to Djokovic’s forehand as hard as he could. He rushed everything. Djokovic focussed on landing his ground strokes deep, and was happy to extend rallies, to find his rhythm and wait for Alcaraz to miss. On the first break point that Alcaraz saw, in the initial game of the match, he sailed a service return long; Djokovic held serve soon afterward. In the following game, Djokovic broke Alcaraz at love, with Alcaraz overhitting three forehands, each of which failed to land inside the court. Quickly, but patiently, Djokovic won five games before Alcaraz had even got on the board. The match of the season looked like a mismatch.
But, as the second set began, Alcaraz altered his approach. He slowed things down. He hit fewer two-handed drive backhands and more backhand slices. He began varying the pace of his forehands. In particular, he began putting more air under the inside-out forehands that he hit to Djokovic’s backhand—looping them, which made for a higher and less penetrating bounce, one that a gust of wind could do tricky things with. (It was a breezy afternoon on Centre Court.) Djokovic’s timing began to suffer. There was an early exchange of breaks, then a series of break-point-free holds—punctuated by scrambles and big hitting and dazzling shot-making on the run. That series of games brought the set to a tiebreak. Djokovic does not lose tiebreaks, especially in major finals; he quickly went up 3–0. But Alcaraz came back, and then his decision to test Djokovic’s backhand with changes of pace and spin paid its biggest dividends, in shocking fashion: Djokovic, ahead 6–5 in the tiebreak and one point from grabbing the set, mistimed two backhands in a row, putting both into the net. On the ensuing point, Alcaraz slapped a return winner, evening the match.
In the first game of the third set, Djokovic again netted a routine backhand, off a loopy Alcaraz inside-out forehand. This one earned Alcaraz an early break. By now, Djokovic’s body language was that of a player surprised to find himself in trouble. The fifth game of the set, with Djokovic serving, was an astonishment: thirteen deuces, as Alcaraz earned break point after break point and Djokovic somehow saved them again and again—nearly twenty-seven minutes of tennis, all of it stressful and consequential, much of it remarkable. When Djokovic brought this to an end by awkwardly sending another shot into the net, the momentum had fully shifted to Alcaraz.
Charlotte, aged eight, wore a floral blue dress for her first appearance at the prestigious tennis tournament, while 10-year-old George sported a navy blue suit and striped tie. They sat next to their parents, Prince William and Catherine, Princess of Wales.
The young Spaniard triumphed over Djokovic, aged 36, in a thrilling five-set final.
Alcaraz became the third-youngest Wimbledon champion in the Open Era, adding a second major title to his resume after winning the US Open in September.
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