Carlos Alcaraz Defeats Novak Djokovic to Claim Career First Wimbledon Title

Carlos Alcaraz is living his dream…

The 20-year-old Spanish tennis player and world won his first Wimbledon title and second Grand Slam title in less than a year after outlasting seven-time Wimbledon champ Novak Djokovic 1-6, 7-6 (6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4, ending the 36-year-old Serbian’s quest for the calendar Grand Slam in 2023.

Carlos Alcaraz,The match lasted four hours and 42 minutes and was the third-longest final in Wimbledon history.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” Alcaraz said on court after the match. “It’s great to win, but even if I would have lost, I would be really proud of myself, making history in this beautiful tournament, playing a final against a legend of our sport. It’s incredible.”

At 20 years, 72 days old, Alcaraz became the third-youngest men’s winner at Wimbledon in the Open era (since 1968).

Playing in only his fourth tournament on grass, Alcaraz has proven to be a quick study on the surface. In two previous appearances at the All England Club, Alcaraz had finished no better than the fourth round. He displayed marked improvement last year, but nothing about his performance signaled he would lift the Gentlemen’s Singles Trophy one year later or have the game — or gumption — to beat one of the all-time great grass-court players on Centre Court.

Before the second set Sunday, Djokovic’s serve had been broken only three times in 103 games this fortnight. Alcaraz did better than that in three sets, storming back from a disastrous opening hour of tennis. Djokovic was clinical in the first set. He dismantled Alcaraz’s forehand and rushed him into errors. Alcaraz won only his final service game that set, but he came alive on every point, as if the game were suddenly coming into focus.

After trading breaks with Djokovic in the second set, he faced him in a tiebreak. At Wimbledon. Down a set. In the final. On Centre Court. And he became the first person to beat the 23-time Grand Slam champ in a tiebreak since Rafael Nadal in the quarters of last year’s French Open. After clinching the 85-minute second set, he lifted his racket to the sky, enticing the Wimbledon crowd to enjoy the moment with him.

“Carlos! Carlos! Carlos!” they chanted in response. If there is a 12th man in football and a sixth man in basketball, the second man at Centre Court helped shift the momentum Alcaraz’s way. He won that set and the next one, but lost focus and the fourth 3-6, which forced a fifth. Then, in a sensational display of grit, endurance and newfound nerves of steel, he broke Djokovic’s serve in the third game and eventually toppled the Wimbledon great.

“I fought until the last ball, every ball,” Alcaraz said in his post-match press conference. “We made great rallies, great points. It was a long match, long sets and it was the mental part that allowed me to stay there during the five sets. To stay good physically and mentally for five hours against a legend, making history like I did today, it’s the happiest moment of my life. I don’t think that’s going to change for a long time.”

Alcaraz said many times this fortnight that he believed he could beat Djokovic in the final. But there’s a vast divide between believing and doing. What Alcaraz accomplished Sunday — in a changing-of-the-guard moment that’s being compared to Roger Federer’s 2001 upset of Pete Sampras here in the fourth round — is difficult to overstate. Djokovic hadn’t lost a match here since 2017. He is a seven-time Wimbledon champion and already won the first two majors of this year.

“For someone of his age to handle the nerves, be playing attacking tennis, and to close out the match the way he did, he came up with some amazing shots,” Djokovic said in his post-match press conference. “I must say, the slices, the chipping returns, the net play, it’s very impressive. I didn’t expect him to play so well this year on grass, but he’s proven that he’s the best player in the world, no doubt. He’s playing some fantastic tennis on different surfaces, and he deserves to be where he is.”

Djokovic was also on track to add a rare accomplishment: a calendar Grand Slam. That a player with 17 games of grass-court experience ended his hope of holding all four major titles within the same calendar year is remarkable. That Alcaraz simply outplayed Djokovic on the court where he built his dynasty is legend-making. With his win, Alcaraz becomes the second-youngest player to beat Djokovic in a major. The youngest? Alcaraz’s compatriot, Nadal, in the 2006 French Open quarterfinals.

Last month, after suffering a disappointing loss to Djokovic in the Roland Garros semifinal, Alcaraz opted to play a grass-court warmup tournament at London’s Queen’s Club. He looked uncomfortable and uncertain in the first round as he deciphered how to translate his game to grass. But with each match, he improved his footwork and moved with more confidence out of the corners. He said he’d been watching video of eight-time Wimbledon champion Federer, the player to whom he’s most compared, and former world No. 1 Andy Murray. He said he considers them to be the best movers on grass and wanted to emulate their style.

He won that Queen’s Club tournament and reclaimed the No. 1 ranking he’d relinquished to Djokovic after the French. More important than the ranking, though, was the belief he gained with that title.

But he had no easy route. Over seven matches, Alcaraz toppled three top-25 players, as well as the No. 2 and 3 players in the world, to take the title. After his win against Daniil Medvedev, he said he’d played one of his best matches not only on grass, but on any surface, and called his execution “amazing.” Then he graded himself an “eight out of 10.” Sunday, he raised that score.

“Before this match, I thought, ‘I can’t beat Novak.’ But after this epic match, I’ll think different about Novak. In other Grand Slams, I will remember this moment,” Alcaraz said.

Carlos Alcaraz Becomes Youngest Year-End No. 1 in ATP History

Carlos Alcaraz has another a place in tennis history once again…

The 19-year-old Spanish professional tennis player is the youngest year-end No. 1 in the history of the ATP computerized rankings.

Carlos AlcarazHe also joins fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal as the first players from the same country to claim the top two spots at the close of a season since Americans Pete Sampras and Michael Chang in 1996.

The final men’s tennis rankings for 2022 were published Monday, and Alcaraz’s rise from No. 32 at the end of 2021 is the largest single-season jump to No. 1.

Alcaraz, who turned 19 in May, has remained atop the rankings since he won his first Grand Slam title at the US Open in September by beating Casper Ruud in the final.

That made Alcaraz the first male teen at No. 1 since the ATP computerized rankings began in 1973.

He’s the first man in 20 years other than Nadal, Roger FedererNovak Djokovic or Andy Murray — since Andy Roddick in 2003 — to finish at No. 1.

Alcaraz ended his season early after tearing an abdominal muscle while competing at the Paris Masters a month ago.

The 36-year-old Nadal, meanwhile, is the oldest man to finish a year ranked first or second. He also extended his own record by placing in the top 10 at the end of a year for the 18th consecutive season. The recently retired Federer is the only other man with that many top-10 finishes over the course of a career.

Nadal won the Australian Open and French Open to raise his men’s-record Grand Slam total to 22 trophies, one ahead of Djokovic and two ahead of Federer.

Ruud finishes at No. 3, followed by No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 5 Djokovic, No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime, No. 7 Daniil Medvedev, No. 8 Andrey Rublev, No. 9 Taylor Fritz and No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz.

Djokovic couldn’t play at the Australian Open or US Open because he is not vaccinated against COVID-19 and didn’t earn any rankings boost for his title at Wimbledon because the WTA and ATP stripped that tournament of any points over the All England Club‘s ban on players from Russia and Belarus.

Caroline Garcia Defeats Maria Sakkari to Advance to Her First WTA Finals Championship Match

Caroline Garcia is one win away from the biggest title of her career…

The 29-year-old part-Spanish French tennis player, who reached the WTA Finals semifinals five years ago, has taken it to the next level.

Caroline Garcia,Garcia defeated in-form Maria Sakkari, 6-3, 6-2, on Sunday to reach the biggest final of her career against Aryna Sabalenka.

“I’m five years older and maybe five years wiser,” she quipped on court after the match. “You try to learn from everything. We got some tough experiences the last couple years, but I’ve got a big team behind me and supporting me, staying positive even when I was negative about myself. It’s definitely a great year. A lot of things happened that I didn’t think would happen!”

The former world No. 4 dealt with years of injuries and inconsistencies following her 2017 peak, but made a steady-to-meteoric rise in 2022. She won three titles to return to the world’s Top 8 and at last fulfill her presaged potential with a 75-minute win on the WTA Finals Stadium Court, striking 21 winners and six aces.

As an unheralded teenager, she famously earned a ringing endorsement from Andy Murray as he watched Garcia nearly stun Maria Sharapova at the 2011 French Open, and as she has unconsciously spent her career striving to meet Murray’s lofty prediction, the tennis world has long swung from earnest to derisive in its repetition of that sporting myth.

Garcia never looked farther from that goal post at the start of this season when she took an extended absence to heal niggling injuries, but she emerged a fresh, hyper-aggressive athlete who took the racquet out of opponents’ hands. The dividends were small at first, earning her a pair of WTA 250 titles in the summer, but it all came together just before the US Open—ironically when she last played Sakkari.

Garcia was ranked No. 79 in May; she is tentatively set to end the season at her career-high of No. 4.

Garcia has typically met her Greek rival under auspicious circumstances; in their two previous meetings, the Frenchwoman has gone on to win the tournament—most recently at the Western & Southern Open, where she won her first WTA 1000 title since 2017.

The Cincy surge brought Garcia’s 2022 to another level, setting the stage for a first Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open, and though the fall initially brought more mixed fortunes, she was able to peak again for her first WTA Finals appearance in five years. Garcia shook off a shock split with Perret to win two of her three round-robin matches, including a three-set epic against No. 8 seed Daria Kasatkina to confirm her berth in the semifinals, and showed no signs of fatigue from the onset against Sakkari, breaking first in the opening set.

“Yesterday, I was obviously a little bit tired, but nothing unusual after such a big match,” she said. “This morning, the legs were a little big heavy but I was just so excited about the emotions and the win of yesterday, and just to be playing a semifinal of the WTA Finals. I was just so excited and feeling very pumped. I spoke to my physio and said, ‘I just hope I last long enough to get to the match!'”

Sakkari had been even more impressive in her second straight WTA Finals appearance, even if it took until the last week of the season to book her ticket to Fort Worth. The two-time Grand Slam semifinalist won all three of her round-robin matches in straight sets, inspired by the slow Dickies Arena court to employ her most aggressive style.

But in a battle of aggressive players, Garcia will almost always win; she strikes an intimidating pose on both serve and return, stepping deep into the court for the latter. Though Sakkari briefly got the match back on serve, Sakkari struck back with another break at love and won seven of the next eight games to lead by a set and two breaks.

As Sakkari struggled to get on the board, the nerves that have so often haunted Garcia in big matches threatened to crop up when a double fault pulled up break point. Refusing to abandon her game plan, the 2022 Ace Leader went just as big on the next serve and struck a backhand down the line to move within a game of the final.

No such nerves returned when it came time to serve for the match: she crashed the net to bring up three match points and though Sakkari saved one with a backhand winner, Garcia pressed one last error from the No. 5 seed to earn her spot in the final.

Rafael Nadal to Play Doubles with Roger Federer at Laver Cup

Rafael Nadal is partnering with his oldest rival…

The 36-year-old Spanish tennis superstar will join forces with Roger Federer as he plays the final professional match of his career at the Laver Cup in London on Friday.

Rafael NadalAt Thursday’s draw, it was confirmed that Federer will join Nadal for Team Europe against the American pair of Frances Tiafoe and Jack Sock for Team World on Friday night.

Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam champion, will then be replaced by Italy’s Matteo Berrettini for the rest of the event.

“It’s super special playing with Rafa,” Federer said in a news conference. “… To be able to do that one more time, I’m sure it’s going to be wonderful.”

Said Nadal: “Tomorrow is going to be a special thing. Difficult. Going to be difficult to handle everything, especially for Roger, without a doubt. But for me too. At the end, one of the most important players — if not the most important player — in my tennis career is leaving.”

Federer, 41, who announced last week that he’s retiring because of an ongoing right knee issue, had said Wednesday that playing alongside 22-time Slam champion Nadal would be a unique, fitting way to go out.

“For as long as we battled together, having had always this respect for one another, our families, coaching teams, for us as well to go through a career we both have had, come out the other side and have a nice relationship, is maybe a great message to tennis and beyond,” Federer said.

The three-day team event will begin Friday afternoon at The O2 Arena with two singles matches. Norwegian Casper Ruud, the runner-up at the US Open earlier this month, will play Sock in the opener before Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece takes on Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman.

The evening session will begin with former world No. 1 Andy Murray up against Alex de Minaur before Federer takes the court for the final time.

“I’m not sure if I can handle it all, but I’ll try,” Federer said Thursday about his sure-to-be-emotional on-court farewell.

Tiafoe, who beat Nadal en route to his first Grand Slam semifinal at the US Open this month, deadpanned about the matchup, “Yeah, I’m just excited to play two up-and-comers tomorrow,” before adding, “It’s going to be iconic to be a part of that. Both guys are absolute legends.”

Federer and Nadal played each other in singles 40 times (Nadal won 26), including 14 Grand Slam matchups (Nadal won 10, going 6-3 in finals). Nadal came out on top in their classic 2008 Wimbledon final, considered by some the greatest match in history, while Federer won their last showdown, in the 2019 semifinals at the All England Club.

They also played one other doubles match together, defeating Jack Sock and Sam Querrey at the inaugural Laver Cup in 2017.

“To be part of this historic moment,” Nadal said about Friday, “is going to be something amazing, unforgettable.”

Alex de Minaur Defeats Vasek Pospisil in US Open Fourth Round to Reach First-Ever Grand Slam Quarterfinal

It’s a US Open to remember for Alex de Minaur

The 21-year-old Uruguayan/Spanish Australian tennis player defeated Canada’s Vasek Pospisil 7-6 (6), 6-3, 6-2 at Flushing Meadows on Monday to reach into his first-ver Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Alex de Minaur

He’s also the first Australian to reach the men’s last eight at the US Open since John Millman in 2018.

de Minaur, the 21st seed, will next face Austria’s Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals.

When the US Open started de Minaur would’ve been considered as a potential title winner.

But with Novak Djokovic disqualified on Sunday after striking a line judge in the throat with a ball, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal not at Flushing Meadows and Andy Murray suffering an early round defeat, the chances of de Minaur winning the title have grown.

With the stakes a little higher, the opening set unfolded like the first round of a prize fight with both players probing for openings and neither managing a single break chance.

In the tiebreak it was Pospisil who had looked poised to land the first blow by going up 6-2, but De Minaur swept the next six points to grab a 1-0 lead.

“That first set was crucial,” said de Minaur. “I think it was just a couple of things going his way and then my way.

“I went down 6-2 but I don’t think I played a bad tiebreak I was just unlucky here and there.

“I just tried to stay calm, do my thing.”

After that effort the Pospisil could only muster token resistance, with de Minaur securing an early break in the second and third sets and never allowing him a chance to get back into the match.

Rafael Nadal’s ATP Cup Mural Unveiled in Perth

Rafael Nadal’s face has found a special home Down Under

The 33-year-old Spanish tennis star, currently ranked No. 1 in the world, is one of the players being honored with a special mural in Perth, Australia.

Rafael Nadal Mural

The inaugural ATP Cupis set to take place between January 3-12 in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, bringing together some of the world’s leading players in both singles and doubles from 24 countries. 

Weeks before the start of the action, Nodal got his mural in Perth together with Kei Nishikori and other stars, with the organizers welcoming the 19-time Grand Slam champion.

Nadal is among those who’ll fight for the crown together with his teammates, fresh after conquering the first edition of the Davis Cup Finalsin Madrid.

Spain is the favorite to reach the quarters from Group B, battling against Japan, Uruguay and Georgia at RAC Arena in Perth and hoping to continue the competition in Sydney where eight strongest teams continue the quest for the title in the second stage of the event.

Backed by Roberto Bautista AugtPablo Carreno BustaAlbert Ramos-Vinolas and Feliciano Lopez, Nadal is eager to lead Spain towards another team competition crown, shining in front of the home fans in Madrid with eight victories from as many rubbers and delivering the sixth Davis Cup title for Spain.

In what was a wild race towards the finish line, Nadal and Djokovic fought for the year-end no. 1 spot for almost the entire season, with the Spaniard making the deciding move in Montreal and the US Open and keeping the lead in the ATP Raceuntil the ATP Finalswhere they both lost in the round-robin stage.

Rafa and Novak will continue their rivalry at the ATP Cup, joined by Gael MonfilsKei NishikoriDavid GoffinAndy Murray, Grigor DimitrovAlexander ZverevDenis ShapovalovFelix Auger-AliassimeNick KyrgiosAlex de MinaurDaniil MedvedevKaren KhachanovJohn IsnerMatteo BerrettiniFabio FogniniDominic Thiem, Diego Schwartzmanand others.

Fernando Verdasco Defeats Andy Murray to Advance to Third Round at the US Open

Fernando Verdasco is celebrating a big win…

The 34-year-old Spanish professional tennis player defeated Andy Murray, the 2012 champion, 7-5, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, in the second round of the US Open.

Fernando Verdasco

Verdasco, the No. 31 seed, will face a second straight past champion at Flushing Meadows when he meets third-seeded Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 champion, in the third round.

Verdasco won for just the second time in 15 career meetings with Murray, who had multiple chances to even the final game of a 64-minute final set before the left-hander finished it.

“I think some of the tennis I played today was some of the best I’ve played since I had the surgery or since I came back,” Murray said. “But there were also periods in the match, especially in the first set, where, you know, I really didn’t play particularly well. I hit a lot of mistakes when I was up in that set. I feel like I should have won the first set and didn’t.

“Then kind of at the end when back was against the wall, I came up with some good tennis to make it close and interesting at the end and almost got myself back into it. You know, there were too many ups and downs for my liking.”

Juan Martin del Potro Defeats Robin Haase at Paris Masters in Quest to Earns Spot at the ATP Finals

Juan Martin del Potro is one step closer to earning a spot in the big show…

The 29-year-old Argentinean tennis star  moved closer to securing the last spot for the season-ending ATP Finals by beating Robin Haase 7-5, 6-4 in the third round at the Paris Masters.

Juan Martin del Potro

del Potro, who lost to Roger Federer on Sunday in the Swiss Indoors final, is in 10th place in the race to qualify for the tournament.

Only the top eight players will compete in London and there is one place left, to be taken in Paris.

“I would love to reach London once again. It could be a fantastic moment for me,” said del Potro, who was way back in 47th place in the race before the U.S. Open.

“I’m excited to keep improving for this kind of surprise. I love to surprise myself and that’s what I’m doing now.”

del Potro has a tough challenge next, against big-serving John Isner.

The ninth-seeded Isner, last year’s runner-up to Andy Murray, hit 25 aces as he beat sixth-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-6 (10), 5-7, 7-6 (3).

Rafael Nadal Seeded No. 1 at the US Open

Rafael Nadal is the man to beat at the US Open…

The 31-year-old Spanish tennis star, who returned to the No. 1 spot on the ATP World rankings last week, is seeded No. 1 at the US Open for the first time since 2010.

Rafael Nadal

The U.S. Tennis Association announced the seedings Thursday, strictly adhering to this week’s ATP rankings.

Nadal returned last week to No. 1, a ranking he last held in 2014. That year’s French Open was the last time the Spaniard was seeded No. 1 at any major.

The man Nadal replaced atop the ATP, Andy Murray, is seeded No. 2 at Flushing Meadows, with Roger Federer No. 3.

Alexander Zverev is No. 4, and 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic is No. 5.

Rafael Nadal Returns to No. 1 in the ATP World Rankings

Rafael Nadal is back on top…

Almost nine years to the day since he first became No. 1, the 31-year-old Spanish tennis star has returned to the top of the ATP rankings for his fourth stint at the pinnacle.

Rafael Nadal

Nadal, who had previously spent 141 total weeks at No. 1, replaces Andy Murray, who had held the top spot for 41 weeks since November 7, 2016.

Nadal, who first ascended to No. 1 on August 18, 2008 at the age of 22, last held top spot three years and 45 days ago on July 6, 2014.

Nadal will now look to stay ahead of rival Roger Federer and finish atop the year-end ATP rankings for the first time since 2013 and for the fourth time in his career (2008, 2010, 2013).

“Being No. 1 after all the things that I have been going through the last couple of years is something unbelievable, so [it] is, for me, an amazing achievement to be back to that position after [a] few years, three years,” said Nadal.

Nadal has spent three previous stints at No. 1 – 46 weeks between August 18, 2008 and July 5, 2009, 56 weeks from June 7, 2010 to July 3, 2011 and 39 weeks between October 7, 2013 and July 6, 2014.

He holds the record for the longest gap – nine years and three days – between his debut at No. 1 and his return today, which betters the previous mark of Jimmy Connors, who was first No. 1 on July 29, 1974 and last at No. 1 on July 3, 1983 – a gap of eight years and 339 days.

Chris Kermode, ATP Executive Chairman and President, said, “To regain the No. 1 ranking nine years after having first reached it is unprecedented. Rafa has been setting records throughout his remarkable career and this one is as impressive as any. It shows incredible dedication and longevity, and we congratulate him on this amazing achievement.”

Nadal, who ended the 2016 season early due to a wrist injury, has returned in 2017 playing some of the best tennis of his career. In compiling an ATP World Tour-best 49-9 match record, Nadal has captured four trophies this season, including historic 10th titles at Roland Garros (d. Wawrinka), the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (d. Ramos-Vinolas) and the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell (d. Thiem), in addition to a fifth crown at the Mutua Madrid Open (d. Thiem).

He has also reached three other finals – the Australian Open (l. to Federer), Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco (l. to Querrey) and the Miami Open presented by Itau (l. to Federer).

On 12 June, Nadal became the first player to qualify for the 2017 season-ending ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 12-19 November. It is the 13th straight year that he has qualified for the elite eight-player tournament.