Fall of a legend!

The 20-year-old World no.1 Carlos Alcaraz’s hard-fought win against the 23-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic on Sunday has stalled the latter’s effort to equal the record of Roger Federer, of winning the Wimbledon title for the eighth time. Alcaraz, up against the man who has been synonymous with the tournament for over five years now, made a nervy start getting broken twice before losing it 1-6. The defending champion owned a 78-0 record in Grand Slam after winning the opening set. But the Spaniard, with an improved return in the second set, stretched it to the tie-breaker before ending Djokovic’s run of 15 consecutive tie-breaks won at Majors. And, he roared back to claim it 7-6(6). Shall one construe this loss of the legend as an end to his illustrious career? It may be too early to say so! Yet, the 36-year-old, Serbian indeed showed glimpses of what he had done against Dominic Thiem in 2020 at the Australian Open final with a serve-and-volley strategy and he bounced back to force a deciding fifth set at the All England Club. But it was probably destined for Alcaraz’s moment in the sun. Djokovic owned Centre Court for 10 years. He owned Wimbledon for four straight years. He was up against an Open Era Grand Slam record. But Alcaraz denied him that piece of history as he broke early in the final set before stunningly sealing the win to claim a maiden Wimbledon title and second Grand Slam trophy in his career after the 2022 US Open.

Visibly upset, Djokovic, who lost his footing mid-point before regaining it, reacted furiously and smashed his racquet on the net post, inviting a code violation fine. However, the theatrics did nothing to distract Alcaraz, who was ultra-impressive as he confidently kept putting away his service games to win the match. Djokovic, who holds the record of being Wimbledon title holder (2011 to 2022) and 10-time Australian Open champion (2008 to 2023), is crestfallen. Maybe age is showing on him. Over the past few years of men’s tennis, even though the legend playing against his great rivals, Djokovic had spent his time destroying the hopes and dreams of nearly all younger challengers at the major tournaments in the past. On the other hand, Carlos under tremendous pressure to hold his serve did a clinical act to perfection. He exhibited his class with insane bits of tennis to outsmart the 23-time Grand Slam champion in five sets – 1-6, 7-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 – in four hours and 42 minutes.

In the past, it was Federer who set the record for winning the most Wimbledon titles in men’s singles – eight. The Swiss player’s Grand Slam titles break up: eight Wimbledon, six Australian Open, five U.S. Open, and one French Open. His Grand Slam finals loss count of 11 is the joint highest with Ivan Lendl and Djokovic. But even in his losses in the Grand Slam finals, Federer’s effortless tennis made for great viewing. And, in women’s, it was Martina Navratilova, who won nine titles and has become the most successful women’s singles player in Wimbledon history till date. The Wimbledon Championships have been held annually in both the Amature Era as well as in the Open Era. As far as Djokovic is concerned he reached a total of 34 finals, of which he won 23 and lost 11 (a winning percentage of 67.6 per cent). Djokovic is the only player to have beaten Federer at all the majors and the Swiss is the only one to have done likewise to Djokovic. While, Federer came out on top of their first four encounters, taking 10 consecutive sets from a youthful Djokovic in 2006-2007 during a time when he was the undisputed No.1.The Serbian and the Swiss have met 17 times at the Grand Slams since 2007. Djokovic is the only man to have beaten Federer at all four majors and likewise, Federer is the only player to defeat Djokovic at all four of them. Now, one has to wait and see, with this historic win, how Carlos’s career is going to unfold in years to come.