Carlos Alcaraz reveals bout of jelly legs amid final drama… Spanish star hit with nerves before clinching Wimbledon crown in thriller

new balance


In conversation with a couple of Wimbledon’s racket stringers last week it was interesting to discover the identities of those who are good to deal with, from their perspective.

The stringing department is the engine room of any tournament, where players come and go to have their equipment seen to, away from the cameras.

So who gets a good review from these hardworking folk, is good humoured and respectful when removed from the spotlight? One name that was volunteered by both: Carlos Alcaraz.

It seems that the new champion of SW19 really is as authentically nice as he appears. Long may that continue, because he is going to be around at the top of the game for a very long time, facing the pressures which come from being one of its superstars.

The people seem to like the idea, with a 11.3million peak BBC audience on TV alone for Sunday’s final, the highest since Andy Murray won in 2016.

Carlos Alcaraz has revealed how h was struck with nerves before he won his first Wimbledon title

Carlos Alcaraz has revealed how h was struck with nerves before he won his first Wimbledon title

He received flashbacks to Roger Federer failing to serve out against Djokovic to win the tournament

He received flashbacks to Roger Federer failing to serve out against Djokovic to win the tournament

He however became the latest winner of the title after overcoming the Serb in five sets

He however became the latest winner of the title after overcoming the Serb in five sets

An aspect that strikes you about the 20-year-old Spaniard is that he is genuinely comfortable in his own skin. Once more it appeared that way when he arrived at Sunday night’s Champions’ Dinner, to receive accolades from those who are now his fellow members of the All England Club. Alcaraz was all charm as he talked about what it was like meeting the King of Spain after his brilliant victory against Novak Djokovic.

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‘Probably I was more nervous talking with him than in the final,’ said Alcaraz. ‘It’s something crazy that I am able to talk with him a little bit and have him supporting me in this amazing final, something that I can’t believe.’

He had admitted to nerves at the climax of Sunday’s showdown with Djokovic, and earlier had told Spanish media that, when serving it out, he had visions of Roger Federer’s failure to do so against the same player in 2019.

‘I’m a boy who has seen lots of matches, including Federer in that match. And sincerely, I thought about it in my head. I thought, “Please, don’t happen to me”. I had physical problems in my legs after that first serve (in the last game at 5-4), which is normal to have those nerves, those trembles.’

Alcaraz was heading home to Murcia on Monday to recuperate. In theory he is meant to be playing on Friday in the Hopman Cup in Nice, but it is unlikely that he will actually make it there.

At Sunday night’s dinner it sounded like he had other plans: ‘To stay at home a little bit and some vacation as well, some days off. I really want to go back home, see my family there, my friends, to feel like I’m a normal guy again at home chilling a little bit,’ he said of his immediate future.

Alcaraz fell to his knees in celebration when his victory was convirmed on Centre Court

Alcaraz fell to his knees in celebration when his victory was convirmed on Centre Court

He will soon turn his attention to defending his US Open title - likely from Djokovic - later on this year

He will soon turn his attention to defending his US Open title – likely from Djokovic – later on this year

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Soon enough Alcaraz will turn his attention to the lead-in towards defending the US Open, which will no longer revolve around whether Djokovic — allowed entry this year because the unvaccinated are no longer banned — could carry off the calendar Grand Slam.

The 36-year-old Serb was clearly shocked by his defeat and it will be fascinating to see how he reacts to it in the medium term.

It could galvanise him and provide a late-career challenge and a new rivalry. Equally, a man who thinks a lot about the spiritual side of life may at some point question how long he wants to go on making sacrifices when he has achieved (and earned) so much.

It would be foolish to make rushed assumptions. On Sunday Djokovic only lost by the narrowest of margins (168 points to 166), and the US Open tends to be the least predictable of the four Grand Slams among the men.

Djokovic is unlikely to improve at his age, and certainly his movement on Sunday betrayed that. He now has a losing record against two 20-year-olds — Alcaraz and Holger Rune.

At 36, Djokovic is unlikely to improve, but Alcaraz's rise could galvanise him with one final challenger

At 36, Djokovic is unlikely to improve, but Alcaraz’s rise could galvanise him with one final challenger

The Serb will be back in New York to challenge Alcaraz, now no longer banned due to vaccination rulings

The Serb will be back in New York to challenge Alcaraz, now no longer banned due to vaccination rulings

Holger Rune is another young gun in the tennis world who is improving his game at a rapid rate

Holger Rune is another young gun in the tennis world who is improving his game at a rapid rate

The punchy Dane is rapidly improving and, alongside Italian Jannik Sinner, is part of a young cluster at the top bearing down on Djokovic, which also includes the older Daniil Medvedev, 27. 

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One of the fascinating matters arising from Wimbledon is whether any of them will be able to compete with Alcaraz, who the likes of John McEnroe have long since identified as the most complete player for their age they have ever seen.

The new ranking list out on Monday seemed to confirm Alcaraz’s superiority, for now at least. With 9,675 points, he is 880 clear of Djokovic. Medvedev is more than 2,000 points behind, in third place.

As the world of tennis goes into its post-Wimbledon lull before slowly cranking up again until New York, there are the usual ranking moves resulting from the fortnight in SW19.

British No 1 Kate Boulter has moved up to world ranking 73 after making the third round at Wimbledon

British No 1 Kate Boulter has moved up to world ranking 73 after making the third round at Wimbledon

The women’s champion, Marketa Vondrousova, has had the biggest boost, going from 42 to No 10 in the world.

Britain’s Katie Boulter has moved up to 73 after making the third round, while there is a first entry into the top 100 for Surrey’s Jodie Burrage, at 98.

Three British men remain largely unmoved within the world’s top 50: Cam Norrie at 13, Dan Evans at 29 and Andy Murray at 41. Jack Draper is back in training and ought to be up there with them once he enjoys a sustained run of fitness.

Djokovic, meanwhile has been fined $8,000 (£6,115) after smashing his racket against a net post during Sunday’s final. Djokovic allowed his frustration to show after failing to break Alcaraz and then losing his own service game during the decisive fifth set.

new balance



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