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Alcaraz stays hungry, humble


‘I don’t feel that I have confirmed something that we all expected.’

CARLOS Alcaraz brushes off the expectations that go with his maiden Wimbledon title. | SEBASTIEN BOZON/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Carlos Alcaraz is determined to quash any suggestions that his epic Wimbledon final win over Novak Djokovic represents the dawn of a new era despite all indications that tennis has witnessed a generational shift.

On Sunday, the 20-year-old became the tournament’s youngest champion since Boris Becker in 1986.

His rollercoaster 1-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 victory prevented 36-year-old Djokovic from becoming its oldest champion.

It also thwarted Djokovic’s dream of trying Roger Federer’s best of eight titles at the All England Club and matching Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles.

Alcaraz, though, remains cautious.

“I don’t feel that I have confirmed something that we all expected,” said the world No. 1.

“I try to avoid what people say, what people expect because in the end it’s a pressure that I put on myself.”

When he claimed a maiden Slam at the US Open last year, Alcaraz became the youngest champion of a men’s major since his storied compatriot Rafael Nadal at the 2005 French Open.

He was also the youngest man to ascend to the world No. 1 ranking.

Alcaraz is now just the fifth man in the modern era to win multiple titles at the majors before turning 21 after Mats Wilander, Bjorn Borg, Becker and Rafael Nadal.

Of the 26 Grand Slams played since the start of 2017, the “Big Three” of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal have gobbled up 22.

Alcaraz is now the only other player with more than one major in that time span.

The remaining titles went to Dominic Thiem in the 2020 US Open, following Djokovic’s infamous default earlier in the tournament, and Daniil Medvedev’s 2021 New York breakthrough where Djokovic was crippled by the pressure of playing for a rare calendar Grand Slam.

Alcaraz can also boast a positive record against all of his top 10 rivals.

Against both Djokovic and Medvedev, he is now 2-1, has a resounding 5-0 stranglehold on Stefanos Tsitsipas and is 3-0 against Casper Ruud.

He also has beaten fellow 20-year-old Holger Rune over three matches, including a straight-sets blitz in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

Alcaraz is 3-3 with 21-year-old Jannik Sinner but has won two of the pair’s last three, one of which was a five-set victory in the US Open quarter-finals in 2022.

Djokovic believes the young Spaniard has successfully harnessed elements from his game as well as those of Federer and Nadal.

“I think he’s got basically the best of all three worlds,” said Djokovic who hadn’t lost on Center Court since 2013 until Sunday.

“People have been talking in the past 12 months or so about his game consisting of certain elements from Roger, Rafa and myself. I would agree with that.”

When Djokovic won his first major at the Australian Open in 2008, Alcaraz was still three months shy of his fifth birthday.

“I haven’t played a player like him ever, to be honest. Roger and Rafa have their own obviously strengths and weaknesses. Carlos is a very complete player,” Djokovic added.

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