Welcome To The Age Of Alcaraz

by Sean Randall | July 17th, 2023, 7:04 pm

The course of tennis history may have changed some 90 minutes into the 2023 final. Carlos Alcaraz had just won his first set.

Novak Djokovic overwhelmed the 20-year-old in the opener 6-1, playing his perfect brand of tennis that we’ve seen for years. Excelling in all departments. Alcaraz had dropped his third straight 6-1 set to the Serb – albeit the two previous were in part due to injury.

Djokovic , who’s been so unbeatable at Wimbledon, looked strong and sure, and ready to claim his 24th Grand Slam and 8th Wimbledon. We knew Alcaraz would rebound. He’s been playing way too good. This beatdown was not going to continue.

I said in my last post, I wondered what Alcaraz would have learned from the French Open. In the first set, he tried his same game of offensive, high-risk, high-octane power tennis and he won one game. His team probably told him ahead of time that strategy wouldn’t work, but now he saw the result for himself, again. So it was time for plan B: copy Novak.

All of sudden, Alcaraz was taking less risk, making more balls, getting Novak on the move, even knocking him down – and Novak went down several times. You could see Alcaraz evolving right before our eyes. From an offensive juggernaut to a smarter, thoughtful and even defensive player.

When Djokovic missed those two backhands at 6-5 in the second set breaker, the match felt over. Alcaraz had figured out a solution had the belief to trust it.

He ran away with the third – outlasting Djokovic in that exhausting fifth game – before Djokovic would rebound in the fourth.

Full credit to Djokovic. The guy blew that set point in the second, blew that marathon 3-1 game in the third and somehow didn’t get down. He was to shrug it off, win the fourth and then even hold a break point to go up 2-0 in the fifth. Had Djokovic converted either in the second or in the fifth, who knows what would have happened. No one ever will.

But what I know is what I saw and that is Alcaraz learning on the job that he can win Grand Slam titles without having to hit 380mph tomahawk forehands every point. His raw quickness and skills to just get the ball back will be enough in a lot of situations.

He’s basically transformed himself into Djokovic just with more firepower and the ability to end points at will at virtually any place on court. What’s scary is he just turned 20 and he’s already figured this out: There more than one way to win.

Yes, there are still some holes. Alcaraz clearly has some issues with nerves, experience and overhitting. But he just took a crash course and passed on how to reel it in, work the points and play defense. Again, he’s just 20.

And on the horizon, who’s going to take him down. Djokovic will still be a problem – he, too, will adjust – but Holger Rune, young Americans, young Canadians, Casper Ruud and the Russians don’t feel like consistent, long-term threats right now. I think Jannik Sinner, Matteo Berrettini – if he can get healthy – are two guys along with maybe Stefanos Tsitsipas.

But as Alcaraz evolves so too should the field. I just don’t think they can keep up. Vamos!

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21 Comments for Welcome To The Age Of Alcaraz

Seth Says:

“He’s basically transformed himself into Djokovic just with more firepower and the ability to end points at will at virtually any place on court.”

I disagree. At 20 he’s already got much more variety in his game than Djokovic, a wider palette of colors to paint with.

And looks like it’s time to update the Funk/Trunk section, no?

skeezer Says:

“ At 20 he’s already got much more variety in his game than Djokovic, a wider palette of colors to paint with. ”
Yes. Remember well when Djoker started out his early career with serving problems, breathing problems, transition game problems, Carlos has none of these. Fixed his cramping from nerves in one tourney. The only thing stopping this kid now is injuries (fingers crossed). He has Feds toolbox, Rafa’s bullness, and Djokers groundies. He could improve on his return, which Djoker is still the best at. My guess is he will.

Alison hodge Says:

He is the defending champion at the USO too, Rafas always been my favourite, and he’s back next year for one last hurrah, but I’m so excited for the future of this guy, as I think there could be bigger things to come, he will be my new favourite I think 🤔

Novak the GOAT Says:

Let’s be fair:
1) Novak is 36 (thirty six) – until recently, tennis players of that age almost played the seniour tour, they were not relevant on ATP level at all. And he still had his chances in this match, many of them.
2) The age difference is astonishing 16 YEARS, same as Sampras – Djokovic (imagine that!). Sampras was deeply retired when Novak started winning ATP tournaments.
3) US Open will be very interesting, it will be the first time Alcaraz will be treated as a CLEAR FAVORITE against Djokovic. Let’s see how he will manage that, if he will be able to maintain the consistency.
4) Alcaraz played brilliantly, kudos to him. He is by far the biggest prospect among all active players today. The points Djokovic missed should also be credited to the fact that Carlos was on the other side of the net.
5) Novak-Federer, Wimbledon 2019. In that match, Novak all but ended Fed’s chances to be considered the GOAT, he destroyed him in all possible ways. But in order to do that, he just had to have at least a little bit of luck to save those two game points on Fed’s serve.

Jim Says:

Guys, 20 years ago it would be considered a MIRACLE if someone aged 36 beat a 20-year old in a tennis match.
Let’s wait and see where Alcaraz career will go. I’m old enough to remember one LLEYTON HEWITT who also emerged with one USO and one WIM just to be destroyed (multiplied by zero) by Roger Federer a year later… and never recovered.

Van Persie Says:

Djokovic, Nadal and Federer dominatwd the tennis world for 2 decades.

The age of Alcaraz will start, when he will win 2 slams per year at least with regularity!

As Novak the GOAT wrote, let us see first how he will handle the situation as a clear fave in New York!

TennisSweater Says:

Novak blew the shot that would have won the championship. Would have gone up 2 – love in 5th set servinf the 3rd game. When Nadal, Fed, Pete were kings Wimbledon honored their preferences. Novak hates wind, messes up his toss. We saw him lose in NY 10 years or so ago because of wind. Why was Wimbledon roof open when the defending champ’s team requested it to be closed. Why was roof open allowing rain to wet the grass 45 minutes before the match? Why did Hubert quarter get called for curfew 25 minutes early when Novak had momentum?

skeezer Says:

Carlos had to play in the same wind and conditions. You would also think the maturity of a 36 yr old with loads more experience in tennis conditions would have an advantage to navigate all that over a 20 yr old.
Carlos blew shots too. He won though….

Dave Says:

Sorry Skeezer. I can’t agree with you on that one. The windy conditions always favor the player with the more topspin forehand. There’s no way Federer loses in straights to Nadal in that Semifinal at the French. Djokovic probably would have won against Thiem. I almost guarantee with how well Nadal played in the 2018 Wimbledon against Djokovic that he would have won that match had it not been played under the roof. So Djokovic got his way against Nadal and didn’t against Alcaraz. It’s just how it goes sometimes. So there are no excuses here. But if you think he outcome would have for sure been the same if the final was played under the roof, I just can’t agree with you there. Playing under the roof will always favor the guy with better pinpoint accuracy on ground strokes, serving and return. And I don’t know a player better than Djokovic when it comes to that. I’m not saying Djokovic would have for sure won under the roof. But it would have made a difference. As far as the breakpoint that Djokovic should have made, it reminded me of the 2013 semifinal at the French Open against Nadal in the 5th set when he fell into the net and lost the point. The ball almost looked like it was going to go out. Djokovic could have waited for it to bounce and even did a safe smash where even if Carlos keeps the rally going, Djokovic would have still had the upper hand. It looked seemed like Djokovic panicked and only has himself to blame for that. So the wind could have been involved. But I put it down to poor shot selection in that moment.

chrisford1 Says:

I note in Sean’s list of possibles that poor Sasha Zverev didn’t even enter the discussion. How far he has fallen from Heir apparent to the Big 3.
The thing we will see is if Alcaraz can also be blessed with the remarkable health and consistency of Roger or Novak, or injuries like Rafa has suffered force him to a shortened season where he gobbles up clay titles and then has to spend months off after his clay court tour ends.
Will Alcaraz be an Iron Man like Djoovic and Federer? Or will he be the unbeatable, high tuned Maserati that breaks down every 900 km? Time will tell!
Consistency was defined in my own mind by Roger Federer, even with some years of reduced level of strong competition, able to win 23 straight Slam semifinals.
And lets all hope for Sasha Zverev to stay clear of his German and Ukrainian stupor models for a time and focus on being a Top 5 tennis player again.

skeezer Says:

Fair enough. But your entire post still looks like an excuse. Coulda woulda if this or that happened doesn’t hold water. Maybe Alcarez can play better under those conditions. Maybe Djoker should have learned better under those conditions. Part of the uniqueness of tennis is it is played under all conditions except rain (or extreme heat). Throw in the variation of surfaces( although not that much anymore). It makes it the challenge that you must have the best game on all surfaces and all conditions, of which yoir man has done very very well. No excuses.
On a side note my only complaint with Feds coulda woulda was the 2008 Wimby final against Rafa. It got really too dark to finish. But…..Rafa must have had better sight in the darkness ;). And really, how do you finish that match another day?

Dave Says:

My entire post looks like an excuse? Then you’re not reading things correctly. Djokovic has only himself to blame. My points with conditions are based on reality. Even if certain players are amazing at adapting to conditions that don’t suit their game style, there are always going to be certain conditions that naturally suit certain players more than others. That’s the reality of it. Every player that won the matches that I referenced deserved to win. It was Djokovics fault that he touched the net and lost the point in 2013. Those are the rules. I was pointing out crucial mistakes that he made. And I refuse to blame the wind on why he missed the shot to go up 2-0 in the fifth. He made the decision to the shot that he did into the net. His responsibility. No excuses in that. He didn’t deserve to win the match. You seem to dismiss the fact that conditions do play a part in a match and can definitely benefit the one players natural way of playing over another. If this wasn’t a fact, Rafa wouldn’t have wanted the roof open in 2018 against Djokovic at Wimbledon. And Djokovic wouldn’t have wanted the roof closed in 2018 and apparently now in 2023 in the final of Wimbledon. Of course a player needs to still execute his shots under pressure even when the conditions suit his natural game style. But players know that in these types of circumstances if they can get the conditions that favor their game style, their chances of winning the match go up. And they will push to get their way in these types of situations. But you’re entitled to your opinion of thinking my entire post looks like an excuse. As I’m entitled to believe that your opinion is greatly exaggerated.

As far as the 2008 Federer vs Nadal match goes. Tennis wasn’t meant to be played in the dark. So they should have either had the proper lighting system. Or finish the match the next day in the light. If you’re thinking about the actual match and not trying to please the tv networks and spectators, then the match should be finished in the right conditions. It’s as simple as that for me.

skeezer Says:

“As I’m entitled to believe that your opinion is greatly exaggerated.”
Lol ok Dave. Fair enough. Apologies in my adjective about the post. I will retract and say “mostly’:)

I do not dismiss that conditions do not have a factor, far from it. It is just that each player has to handle it accordingly, some do better than others, and those who do will more than likely win those matches. For me it is a cop out that a player will mention that the conditions didn’t favor “me”. You lost. Handle the conditions better. Get better.

As far as you mentioning windy conditions ALWAYS favor the player with more topspin I disagree with you there, but maybe we can discuss that topic another time as it could go long between you and I ( although would be a fun discussion )


Wog Boy Says:

Dave, you are too good of a human, your blood is worth bottling.

chrisford1 Says:

Good comments, Dave. And add in that Ashe stadium at the USO is the worst venue in N America for heat differential from stadium floor to ambient outside air temp. And the design of Ashe actually enhanced wind speed and swirling
That has a lot to do why Djokovic has has a miserable career at Flushing Meadow. (for him at least, only 3 Slams for a hardcourt player once thought to be destined to dominate the USO has to be a big disappointment).
His running into nets, his bad judgment on smashes? A deficiency he never fixed.

TennisSweater Says:

I’m not suggesting the wind was the cause of Novak blowing breakpoint in 2nd game of 5th set. I am certain that Novak’s first serve was negated by the open roof. His serve has been a weapon dince Goren joined his team and Novak modified his service motion. His redesigned service prolonged his career and put him in position to pass Nadal. Novak’s serve had been a reliabld weapon in the early rounds and vs Hubert, Rublev & Sinner. That vital weapon wasn’t in his arsenal vs Carlos. The open roof and the steady breeze lowered his serve to ordinary. He kicks Carlos’ ass with a closed roof. He knows it. His team knows it.

Okiegal Says:

So he beats Carlos if the roof is closed?? Well, we will never know that for sure, will we??? 🤔🤔 I’ve heard
it all……

Giles Says:

ROFL. All the excuses for the Cheater’s loss to Carlos coming to the fore now.
Save your breath. Conditions were the same for both players . It’s just that the younger man handled it better!! Seems the ex #1 is losing his touch! Arsehole!

TennisSweater Says:

Why do lower vibration individuals resort to name calling or personal insults? It goes beyond native intelligence and self esteeem. Tennis at the elevated levels requires innate intelligence of the highest order. So too does comprehending the matches and the situation. All it takes is one word, or one interpretation to identify the stratum of intelligence.

Alison hodge Says:

Hi Okie, all good here honey, weather in the UK been pretty up and down, had a mini heatwave a few weeks back, but it’s much cooler now, coming back apparently but don’t know when…. Anyway Carlos won fair and square, and your right the weather, the wind, the roof, blah blah blah, same for both players, it’s who handles it the best, Carlos did, Novak didn’t, THE END xx 😀 TAKE CARE xx

Okiegal Says:

Al…. so glad to hear things are going good for you too. Another hot day here in Ada, America. I just stay in and cool my heels! The Oklahoma heat is why I don’t plant a garden!! 😩😩🤣🤣Take care!! 🥰🥰

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