Carlos Alcaraz: brilliant 20-year-old seizes Wimbledon crown

New Spanish tennis superstar has ‘never-before-seen-gifts’

Carlos Alcaraz
Alcaraz’s rise has been meteoric
(Image credit: Tim Clayton/Getty Images)

For years now, any victory by a young player over Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer has been hailed as a “changing of the guard” in men’s tennis, said Stuart Fraser in The Times.

But they all turned out to be false starts, as the world-beating trio continued their extraordinary dominance of the game. That’s why Carlos Alcaraz’s victory over Djokovic at Wimbledon on Sunday felt like a “seismic” moment. Be sure of this: “the 20-year-old from Spain is here to stay at the summit of tennis”. It isn’t only this victory that tells us that; it’s the “astonishing” circumstances in which he secured it.

Until this tournament, Alcaraz had played only a handful of matches on grass, and often looked uncomfortable on the surface. He wasn’t even born the last time someone other than Djokovic, Nadal, Federer or Andy Murray won the men’s Wimbledon title. Yet here he was, “beating the greatest player of all time over the course of five sets on a grass court”. Alcaraz’s rise has been meteoric, said Jamie Braidwood in The Independent. A grand slam winner at 19, he was world No. 1 – the youngest ever – going into this tournament. Now, he has fulfilled his lifelong dream, by not just playing in a Wimbledon final – but winning one.

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And what a final it was, said Owen Slot in The Times. Djokovic “humiliated” his opponent in the first set, which he won 6-1. But the 85-minute second set was a “titanic battle” edged by Alcaraz, who also took a third set featuring an epic 26-minute game with no fewer than 13 deuces. A fired-up Djokovic took the fourth, said Barney Ronay in The Guardian. But the young Spaniard had too much talent for his 36-year-old opponent: Djokovic could only “attack the court furniture, mangling his racket head on the net post” as Alcaraz produced an array of sublime volleys and drop shots to take the fifth set. Does this mean Djokovic’s powers are waning? Perhaps. But “the real story was a brilliant display of champion nerve and intuitive learning on the job from Alcaraz”, who now looks destined for greatness.

‘Never feared older or bigger players’

He always has, said Michael Mewshaw and Simon Briggs in The Daily Telegraph. The young Carlos, whose father was a professional tennis player, was blessed with natural speed and exceptional hand-eye coordination. “What truly set him apart, however, was his attitude, his enthusiasm.” A small and thin kid, he’d spend hours in the gym to bulk up. Defeats didn’t discourage him, he “never feared older or bigger players”, and by the time he was 15, credible figures in the game were judging his forehand to be “among the five best in the world”.

This result is just the tonic that tennis needed, said Charlie Eccleshare on The Athletic. Having outlasted Federer and Nadal, Djokovic had become “too dominant” in the men’s game: he’d won six of the past eight Wimbledon titles before this year, and hadn’t lost on Centre Court for a decade. His French Open win last month took him to a record-breaking 23 men’s grand slam titles. But the emergence of Alcaraz, who possesses an easy charisma and “never-before-seen gifts” on the court, has the potential to force Djokovic to get even better, while thrilling a new generation of fans. What an extraordinarily “exciting prospect”.

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