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Carlos Alcaraz beats Novak Djokovic, media reaction world view, tennis’ change of the guard

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Carlos Alcaraz believes his Wimbledon triumph against Novak Djokovic can signal a changing of the guard — and the world agrees, with the Spanish young gun being heralded as the new “icon” the sport needed.

Alcaraz ended Djokovic’s run of four successive Wimbledon titles with an epic 1-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-1 3-6 6-4 victory in a final for the ages on Sunday.

And it wasn’t just the result as the 20-year-old ended Djokovic’s five-year reign at the All England club, but the manner of the performance that had many of the world’s top tennis writers convinced that a long-awaited handover to a new generation was finally happening in men’s tennis.

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“Could that finally be the torch-passing moment men’s tennis has waited more than a decade for?,” leading tennis writer Ben Rothenberg wrote on Twitter.

“Time will tell, but that was a *seismic* result by Carlos Alcaraz to beat Djokovic with how well Djokovic had played at #Wimbledon in the short and long term.”

Simon Briggs, writing for the UK Telegraph, said the result “felt like a symbolic moment of rebirth” for tennis.

“The 20-year-old pretender came of age in one of the most spectacular finals this court – and indeed this sport – has ever seen,” Briggs wrote

“After all the farewells of recent years, after the losses of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams, his five-set victory felt like a symbolic moment of rebirth.

“… There are dozens of reasons to believe that Alcaraz can rule Planet Tennis. But the most persuasive one is his extraordinary repertoire. It is hard to imagine that any 20-year-old has been able to win points in so many different ways. Djokovic alluded to this after the match, when he said that, “Being able to adapt has been my strength for many years. He has it, too”.

Carlos Alcaraz with the trophy.
Carlos Alcaraz with the trophy.Source: Getty Images
Carlos Alcaraz of Spain (L) holds the Men’s Singles Trophy alongside Novak Djokovic of Serbia (R) with the Men’s Singles Runner’s Up Plate following the Men’s Singles Final on day fourteen of The Championships Wimbledon 2023 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 16, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Oliver Brown, also writing for the Telegraph, wrote that tennis now had the new “icon it needed” in Alcaraz.

“The torch is passed. And rarely, if ever, has tennis looked so luminously aflame. Carlos Alcaraz has, through his usurping of Novak Djokovic in four hours and 42 minutes of frenzied Centre Court theatre, become not just the champion the sport craved but the icon it needed.” Brown wrote.

“For the first time since 2002, Wimbledon’s golden Challenge Cup rests not in the hands of Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Andy Murray. Instead, it belongs to one gloriously self-assured Spaniard whose future greatness knows no bounds.”

Brown described Alcaraz as a “priceless discovery” for the sport, which has for so long suffered from not having an obvious success to legends Djokovic, Federer and Nadal who have dominated for decades.

“The men’s game has grown so lopsided that until this bravura Alcaraz performance, 61 of 72 majors had been won by just three players. The auras of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have been so overwhelming that, rather ludicrously, Alcaraz is not just the first man born this century to win Wimbledon, but the first born since 1987. The French and Australian Opens are still waiting for a champion under the age of 36. It is no exaggeration to declare that until Alcaraz came along, tennis had skipped an entire generation.”

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Brown also wrote “the robes of tennis nobility rest easily on Alcaraz’s muscled shoulders”, with his likability meaning commercial suitors are lining up to get a piece of him.

“Alcaraz would be nobody’s idea of arrogant. He simply radiates a confidence commensurate with his otherworldly talent. Who is poised to challenge him over the next decade? Who is capable of emulating his versatility across all surfaces? For now, these debates can wait. Suffice it to say that the sport has at last unearthed somebody who refuses to be intimidated by the greats he walks among,” Brown said.

“…. While Djokovic said that he looked forward to many more battles with this thrilling prodigy, history would suggest his view is optimistic. The dethroned champion is 36, with his period of potential dominance fast dwindling. This is Alcaraz’s world now.”

Barney Ronay, writing for the Guardian, said the “future of men’s tennis became the present too” with Alcaraz’s remarkable win.

“To win this one is an act of empire building, the kind of victory that stays with you through the challenges to come. Both men are relentless, but somehow Djokovic always looked like an icon in the process of being torn down. No matter how hard he pushed, those startling shots and grabs and gets just kept on coming back. There is no escape from Alcaraz,” he wrote.

“… It is genuinely rare in sport to witness such an obvious meeting of grand talents heading in opposite directions, one somewhere close to the end, the other just stepping out of the doors and on to the surface of the moon. The changing of the guard stuff, the GOAT versus the kid, has followed both players through the draw.

“But if Djokovic did look below his best here at times, it would be wrong to attribute this to declining powers.The real cause, the real story was a brilliant display of champion nerve, and intuitive learning on the job from Alcaraz, who began the match looking callow and rushed, and ended in a rich seam of balletic, creative, endlessly varied grass court tennis.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 16: Carlos Alcaraz of Spain (L) with the Men’s Singles Trophy interacts with Novak Djokovic of Serbia (R) with the Men’s Singles Runner’s Up Plate following the Men’s Singles Final on day fourteen of The Championships Wimbledon 2023 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 16, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Stuart Fraser, writing for The Times, said that after many false dawns when it came to a changing of the guard, Alcaraz’s win “felt different”.

“(It) is such a seismic moment that it was probably recorded on the Richter scale in SW19. The 20-year-old from Spain is here to stay at the summit of tennis,” Fraser wrote.

“…Speak to anyone who saw Alcaraz play before he was famous and it was clear even in his mid to late teens that he had the tools, both technically and mentally, to win Wimbledon. Few predicted, however, that he would achieve it by now in such style, beating the greatest player of all time over the course of five sets on a grass court.

“… The manner in which Alcaraz has triumphed this summer has astonished long-time figures in tennis. Less than four weeks ago he looked reluctant to move with speed on the slick grass, having only played six matches on the surface in his career before arriving at the Queen’s Club for his Wimbledon warm-up. Twelve consecutive wins later, he looks completely at home on the lawn.”

Alcaraz, too, hopes his second career grand slam title could signal the start of a new era.

“It’s a dream. I’m 20. I didn’t experience many moments like this. Making history like I did today, it’s the happiest moment of my life,” Alcaraz said.

“Beating Novak at his best on this stage, making history, being the guy to beat him after 10 years unbeaten on this court is amazing for me.

“It’s great for the new generation to see me beating him and make them think they are capable of doing it as well. It’s great for me, and the young players as well.”

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