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  Opinion   Edit  17 Jul 2023  AA Edit | New Wimbledon champ is like a breath of fresh air

AA Edit | New Wimbledon champ is like a breath of fresh air

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jul 18, 2023, 12:34 am IST
Updated : Jul 18, 2023, 12:34 am IST

Alcaraz demonstrated capabilities on court that should see him dominate world tennis along with his colourful extended family of supporters

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz, right, celebrates with his trophy after beating Serbia's Novak Djokovic, left, in the men's singles final on day fourteen of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Sunday, July 16, 2023. AP/PTI
 Spain's Carlos Alcaraz, right, celebrates with his trophy after beating Serbia's Novak Djokovic, left, in the men's singles final on day fourteen of the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Sunday, July 16, 2023. AP/PTI

Wimbledon has a new champion and tennis a fresh new face as a lodestar. In crowning himself as the winner on Novak Djokovic’s ‘home’ turf, the freckle-faced Spanish 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz has not only become the third youngest player to win the men’s title but also carries enough promise to leave an imprint on the game as much as two younger champions to win Wimbledon did in their careers — Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg.

A generational shift could be sensed in the near five-hour five-set final for the ages as Alcaraz showcased all the gifts of the racket game in the decider — silken drop shots and spinning lobs following a powerful serve regularly clocking upwards of 115 mph and a forehand that could become the most feared weapon for years to come on the tennis circuit, especially in the Grand Slams.

The graciousness of an era that may just be beginning to see its end was encapsulated in all the good things that Novak Djokovic, the tennis player who had singularly dominated the last few years despite the brouhaha over his Covid vaccination status, had to say of his vanquisher. He had not met a player like Alcaraz he said to summarise what all believe the youngster can achieve as he is elevated into the pantheon of the greats after just his second Grand Slam victory.

It does seem that Djokovic (23 Grand Slams), the only fully active player from among the Big Three also comprising Rafael Nadal (22) and Roger Federer (20), might have to bring his best on court to stretch his historic Grand Slam count. The focus of the upcoming US Open as well as next year’s Grand Slams will be the battles to come between the world No. 1 and 2, a ranking that becomes easier to believe after King Carlos’ triumph on grass.

Not beaten once in 78 matches in which he took the first set at Wimbledon and unbeaten for ten years on the fabled Centre Court, Djokovic was made to seem vulnerable in a final in which he was a stroke away from a 2-0 lead. But so strewn was the match with his unforced errors — 40 said the computerised count — that it appears Alcaraz has damaged more than just Djokovic’s strokes, perhaps his psyche too as the 7-time Wimbledon champion wept. Maybe that is the reason why Djokovic said that he saw a little bit of all three of them in the young champion.

All the nerves of the kind that had led to full body cramp in the French Open final behind him after a tardy start, Alcaraz demonstrated capabilities on court that should see him dominate world tennis along with his colourful extended family of supporters. In taming the best returner of all time, he showed how capable he is of duelling against the best in long court battles.

There was a young winner on the distaff side too, further indicating the shifting tide in world tennis. The Czech player with the unusual first name of Marketa downed the more fancied Arab player from Tunisia, Ons Jabeur, to bring a whole new flavour to the world’s most famous grass court championship. Vondrousova played a charming old-fashioned game of gentle strokes to keep the ball in play with all the natural grace of a left-hander. Tennis sorely needed the refreshing breeze of change as it strives to reinvent itself to stay relevant in the most modern era.

Tags: wimbledon, novak djokovic, carlos alcaraz