Alcaraz sets up Wimbledon final clash against Djokovic with straight sets win over Medvedev 

new balance


Kicked with spin, slapped with dashes and helpless as a flag in a storm, Daniil Medvedev looked to his team at the end of the second set and turned up his hands. But what could they tell him that we don’t already know about Carlos Alcaraz?

And what could they possibly do? There is only one man in tennis who might have the answers to such a magnificent riddle, and it is to the immense benefit of these Championships that he will hold the other racket in a showdown for the ages in Sunday’s final.

Old versus young. Legend versus successor. Novak Djokovic versus Carlos Alcaraz. What a treat and what a brutally tough match to call.

But before we come to that, it is necessary to scale Alcaraz’s talent in the context of the mauling he performed on Medvedev in this semi-final. A quick reminder on Medvedev – he is the third best player in the world. A US Open champion, a three-time Slam runner-up, a five-time winner on Tour this year, and a giant of a man who gives nothing away on the cheap.

And yet he was pulled apart by his 20-year-old opponent for the loss of nine games in less than two hours. Medvedev tried it all – big serves, standing back, standing closer, going to the net, chips, charges. But with rhythmic inevitability, all balls returned harder, with more spin, tighter to the lines.

Carlos Alcaraz brushed Daniil Medvedev aside in the semi-final at Wimbledon

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Carlos Alcaraz brushed Daniil Medvedev aside in the semi-final at Wimbledon

The Russian was unable to trouble the world No.1 as he fell to defeat in the last 4

The Russian was unable to trouble the world No.1 as he fell to defeat in the last 4

Alcaraz showed his skills during the clash as he came out on top at Wimbledon

Alcaraz showed his skills during the clash as he came out on top at Wimbledon

At times, the Russian seemed to wonder quite how it was happening and he had the entirety of Centre Court for company. How, for instance, can serves on a grass court kick over the head of a man measuring 6ft 6ins? How, too, is a smaller guy of 6ft almost unpassable at the net? This was a sporting murder by a dozen drop shots and whipped forehands; guile and force.

When it was over, Alcaraz clenched both fists, looked to the sky and then to the final, because he faces the toughest challenge in sport – beating Djokovic on Centre Court. Which is to say beating the most effective tennis player in history in an arena where he has not lost since 2013.

‘This is a dream for me to play a final here,’ Alcaraz said. ‘I cannot believe it. I’m going to enjoy this amazing moment. It’s time to keep dreaming.

‘Everybody knows the legend he is. But I will fight. I will believe in myself. I will believe that I can beat him.’

The mystery is whether he can withstand the occasion, given what happened at the French Open this year, when Alcaraz was so consumed by nerves prior to their semi-final that he suffered full-body cramps in defeat. Djokovic, a seven-time winner in these parts and chasing a record-equalling eighth, will remember those words and will feed off them.

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‘I saw that he has been unbeaten since 2013 in this court so it is going to be a really tough challenge for me,’ Alcaraz added. ‘But I am ready for this.

‘I dreamed since I started playing tennis to play a final here but it’s even more special against Novak.

Alcaraz will take on Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final and he believe it will be special

Alcaraz will take on Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final and he believe it will be special

‘It’s a final, no time to be afraid. I will go for it and let’s see what happens.’

If Alcaraz can get the job done, it will be seen as a passing of the torch, of course. In winning the US Open last year, aged 19, he became the youngest world No 1 in the history of the men’s game; as a 20-year-old this time round he is the top seed and already viewed as the figure to dominate the post-Big Three era.

That can weigh heavily on a player, but Alcaraz’s progress has been relentless, with his adaptation to the grass among his notable strides this year. He won at Queen’s last month, and on this run he has only dropped two sets.

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The chances of further scares against Medvedev were quickly written off. His first big move came at 4-3, when he manoeuvred the third seed into firing long for the break, and he closed the set in the very next game. That he did so with a pair of slow deliveries – 108mph to make set point and 117mph to take it – spoke volumes for the amount of spin he was putting on the ball. Clay court tennis on a green surface.

Medvedev had a glimpse of a break at 1-0 in the second, but it was killed off by successive drop volleys by the Spaniard, and in a blink he seized the initiative for himself by winning four of the next five games. By the time the set was sealed for 6-3, Medvedev looked crestfallen – poor fella had hit only nine unforced errors.

The third was far more turbulent following an early break for Alcaraz, with a subsequent messy patch in which they each gave up their delivery twice.

That opened a door for Medvedev and Alcaraz slammed it in his face, a young guy who seems to do to others what Djokovic recently did to him.

One has the aura, the other is acquiring it. On Sunday, we will see if anything else passes between them.

new balance



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