Preview: Carlos Alcaraz vs. Novak Djokovic 

Preview: Carlos Alcaraz vs. Novak Djokovic 

The student faces the master in Sunday’s blockbuster Wimbledon men’s singles final on Centre Court, as defending champion Novak Djokovic pits his wits against world number one Carlos Alcaraz.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner asserted his dominance over Jannik Sinner to reach a record-breaking 35th major final, while Alcaraz comfortably sent Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev packing.

Back in 2021, an 18-year-old Alcaraz was swiftly swept aside by the more experienced Medvedev in the second round of Wimbledon, taking just two points on the Russian’s first serve throughout the entire contest. Two years down the line, the US Open champion successfully avenged that premature exit, and in some style too.

Following two utterly dominant sets from the Spaniard in the battle between two men chasing down the number one spot, Medvedev began to force the issue and belatedly broke Alcaraz a couple of times, but the Russian’s excellence deep behind the baseline was soon invalidated by a number of errors at the net.

Having cancelled out a pair of Medvedev breaks in the third set, Alcaraz came up with a quintessential forehand winner to propel himself into an inaugural SW19 showpiece, belatedly taking to the grass like a duck takes to water.

The world number one – who warmed up for the Grand Slam by lifting the Queen’s Club trophy aloft and continues to wow the British crowd with his ferocious forehands – enters Sunday’s headline match on a nine-set winning streak, while a total of just nine games dropped against Medvedev is the fewest in a Wimbledon semi since Andy Murray’s identical win over Tomas Berdych in 2016.

With Murray going on to add a second SW19 crown to his resume that year, Alcaraz – who is now 46-4 this year – has at least one historical omen on his side, and he has already joined the exclusive club of players to reach multiple Grand Slam finals before the age of 21; a list previously only occupied by Rafael Nadal and his upcoming Centre Court foe.

Djokovic may not be adding chair umpire Richard Haigh to his Christmas card list any time soon, as the defending Wimbledon champion was penalised twice in one game during his semi-final with Sinner – one for a time violation and one for hindrance, having grunted too long after letting fly for Haigh’s liking.

However, as he has done throughout his long and distinguished career, Djokovic brought his defensive dexterity to the fore to keep Sinner at arm’s length throughout Friday’s showdown under the roof, saving all six break points he faced in a 6-3 6-4 7-6[4] triumph.

The Centre Court crowd were evidently desperate to see Sinner prolong the contest as the youthful Italian began to raise his game in the third set, but it was a fruitless endeavour against Djokovic, who has already written a few more chapters of history and could still add a couple more pages to the record books.

The 36-year-old’s 35 Grand Slam final appearances is now an all-time high, while he is also seeking to lift the Wimbledon crown aloft for the fifth time in a row – equalling Roger Federer and Bjorn Borg’s astounding achievement – while also matching the former’s record of nine Grand Slam titles on British lawns.

Furthermore, a 24th major honour would see Djokovic equal the record set by Margaret Court, as well as knocking Alcaraz off his perch at the top of the ATP Rankings. Since Murray’s maiden Wimbledon triumph in 2013, not a single player has been able to beat Djokovic on Centre Court, and Alcaraz could do with taking a leaf out of the Briton’s book before attempting to snap his elder’s unparalleled SW19 streak.

Tournament so far
Carlos Alcaraz:

First round: vs. Jeremy Chardy 6-0 6-2 7-5
Second round: vs. Alexandre Muller 6-4 7-6[2] 6-3
Third round: vs. Nicolas Jarry 6-3 6-7[8] 6-3 7-5
Round of 16: vs. Matteo Berrettini 3-6 6-3 6-3 6-3
Quarter-final: vs. Holger Rune 7-6[3] 6-4 6-4
Semi-final: vs. Daniil Medvedev 6-3 6-3 6-3

Novak Djokovic:

First round: vs. Pedro Cachin 6-3 6-3 7-6[4]
Second round: vs. Jordan Thompson 6-3 7-6[4] 7-5
Third round: vs. Stanislas Wawrinka 6-3 6-1 7-6[5]
Round of 16: vs. Hubert Hurkacz 7-6[6] 7-6[6] 5-7 6-4
Quarter-final: vs. Andrey Rublev 4-6 6-1 6-4 6-3
Semi-final: vs. Jannik Sinner 6-3 6-4 7-6[4]

We say: Djokovic to win in five sets
Swapping the unforgiving clay for fast-paced grass means that there should be no repeat of Alcaraz’s cramping episodes from Roland-Garros – music to the ears of the Spaniard’s fans and the neutrals hoping for Sunday’s battle of the behemoths to live up to the hype.

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