Alcaraz demolishes Medvedev to set up dream Wimbledon final with Djokovic | Wimbledon 2023

new balance

Since the very moment that Carlos Alcaraz began his first Wimbledon as the No 1 player in the world, he has consistently made his intentions clear. He did not merely come here to win this tournament; he wanted to win it against the best. More than anything at all, he wanted a final showdown with Novak Djokovic and he would do everything in his power to make it happen.

That burning desire was clear and undeniable as Alcaraz stood up against the third best player in the world, Daniil Medvedev, and in one of the biggest matches of his young career, the Spaniard produced an astounding level of attacking tennis to pick the Russian’s game apart. In just the fourth grass-court tournament of his career, Alcaraz will contest his first Wimbledon final after demolishing Medvedev 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

A month after crumbling under the weight of the moment against Djokovic in the semi-finals of the French Open, suffering from full-body cramps brought out by nerves in their first grand slam meeting, Alcaraz will get his rematch against Djokovic on an even greater stage. “I can’t believe it. I’m going to enjoy this amazing moment for me and it’s time to keep dreaming,” said Alcaraz.

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As Djokovic dusted aside Jannik Sinner with ease in the first semi-final, it left the men’s Wimbledon final in perhaps an ideal scenario. The final three players left in the tournament were the best three players in the world, with the players ranked second and third in the ATP race doing battle for a shot at the best.

The first task for both players was to grow accustomed to the sound of the rain thundering down on the Centre Court roof. While Medvedev had insisted Alcaraz’s demolition of him in the final of Indian Wells would have no relevance, it undoubtedly reinforced the level of play that would be required from him to win. The Russian came out with the clear intention to dictate, connecting with a few sweet forehands early.

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But Alcaraz was right there with him. From the beginning, he looked to exploit the vast space left by Medvedev’s deep return and court positioning: Alcaraz swept forward to the net effectively. He perfectly executed smooth drop shots that Medvedev could not even begin to chase down, so far from the baseline he was.

Alcaraz also used his backhand slice well to make Medvedev, and his flat strokes, uncomfortable on the low-bouncing grass. The No 3 seed served well early on, but Alcaraz is one of the best returners in the game. At 4-3, he played a brilliant return game, ending with a stunning backhand down-the-line return, to seal the decisive break of the set.

The clearest indication of how one-sided this match would actually be came after Alcaraz’s spotless first-set performance.

Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev was undone by Carlos Alcaraz’s power and variety in his first Wimbledon semi-final. Photograph: Alberto Pezzali/AP

In his opening service game of the second set, the No 1 seed double-faulted to fall down break point. This could have been a turning point. Even during his loftiest moments, there have been times over the past year when Alcaraz inexplicably went off the boil and the errors piled up.

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Instead, Alcaraz saved the break point with an ace down the T. He then dismounted from the game with another drop shot winner. In the very next game he pounced, breaking serve in a return game that included him rushing the net behind the return, then brilliantly defending the net.

As his game flowed, his explosive forehands drawing gasps from the crowd, Alcaraz’s typical list of highlight-reel shotmaking included a backhand slice winner.

It was so easy that, in the third set, the Spaniard began to play with his food. Despite serving so well throughout the match, he twice gave back his break with messy, unfocused service games. No matter, Alcaraz just broke serve for a third time at 4-3 with a thunderous forehand return before serving out a tremendous win.

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Yet another tremendous victory further underlines the quite astonishing rate of Alcaraz’s improvement as this fortnight has added a new dimension to his precocity. A few weeks ago, he started the grass-court season still uncertain of his footing on the surface, unable to play freely with his mind on his movement. He barely survived his first match against Arthur Rinderknech, a lucky loser at Queen’s ranked No 83.

“What can I say? Everybody knows the legend he is,” said Alcaraz of his upcoming opponent, Djokovic. “It’s gonna be really, really difficult but I will fight. That’s myself. I will believe in myself. I will believe that I can beat him here. I saw that he’s unbeaten since 2013 on this court. But it’s gonna be a really tough challenge for me but I’m ready for it.”

He continued: “It’s no time to be afraid. It’s no time to be tired. I will go for it and we’ll see what’s going to happen.”

Now he is a Wimbledon finalist having won Queen’s and then kept the ball rolling, winning his last 10 matches with wins over the 2021 Wimbledon finalist, Matteo Berrettini, and now the world No 3, Medvedev.

With every match, Alcaraz has made clear improvements and learned a few new details about how his game matches up to the grass, and this most recent one was the best he has played on this surface.

For Medvedev, this week and the past months in Europe still represent a positive step forward in his career. Having described himself as a hard-court specialist at the beginning of the year, the Russian has made serious strides on both clay and grass courts, winning the Italian Open and now reaching his first Wimbledon semi-final. There is a ceiling, though, and against the varied, destructive power and athleticism of Alcaraz, there was nothing he could do.

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