Carlos Alcaraz, 20, will try to end Novak Djokovic’s 34-game winning streak on the grass at Wimbledon and rob the Serb of a record 24th Grand Slam title and a fifth consecutive title at the All England Club where he was champion seven times. Alcaraz is already world number one and won the US Open last year beating Casper Ruud, but Djokovic’s challenge is “from another universe”, according to Wilander.
Carlos Alcaraz will have to kick Novak Djokovic from his throne at Wimbledon in Sunday’s final because he won’t be given an inch, according to seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander.
The 20-year-old Spaniard will look to end Djokovic’s 34-game winning streak on the grass at Wimbledon and rob the Serb of a record 24th Grand Slam title and fifth straight title at the All England Club where he was champion seven times.
Alcaraz is already world number one and won the US Open last year beating Casper Ruud, but Djokovic’s challenge is “from another universe”, according to Wilander.
If successful, however, the Swede believes it would represent a seismic shift in men’s tennis.
“If he can put the puzzle together against Novak who gives you nothing, then we’re talking about someone who will transcend our game,” Wilander, who leads Eurosport’s coverage of the final, told Reuters at Wimbledon on Saturday. .
“It’s really important that Carlos Alcaraz beats Novak Djokovic in a Grand Slam final before (Djokovic’s career) is over. It’s really important for our sport that the person who is the champion is kicked off the throne, just like Lleyton Hewitt did with Pete Sampras.
“It would be an injection of energy for our sport if Carlos could do it at some point, if not tomorrow, at the US Open. One of the young guys has to beat Novak before he’s done.”
Alcaraz’s all-court match wowed Wimbledon crowds this year and Wilander says it’s the “complete package”.
“He has the shot selection of (Roger) Federer. He has the passion of Rafa (Nadal). He has the movement of Djokovic. And then he has one more thing that none of them had or didn’t a, it’s the smile.
“The ease with which it does everything and it looks so comfortable.”
Alcaraz destroyed Russian third seed Daniil Medvedev to set up Djokovic’s showdown but will need to replicate that performance, and some, if he is to win on Sunday, Wilander says.
The Spaniard faced Djokovic in a highly anticipated French Open semi-final last month, but after winning the opening set he suffered from cramps and was overwhelmed in four sets.
“Of course Djokovic can lose, but I don’t think he cares anymore,” Wilander said.
“He’s going to come in and play around 90 per cent all the time, maybe dipping to 85 per cent and sometimes up to 95 per cent. But he’s going to be there all the time. Carlos is going to be on a rollercoaster ride throughout the game because that you can’t stay with Novak for five sets. You have to go in and out. Novak won’t have a dive.
“The thing about Carlos is that he can do what we all did when we were very young, which is suddenly, because of the adrenaline…play a game that you didn’t even know you could play, like Boris Becker here in 1985.
“It is possible that Carlos Alcaraz will play 25% better tomorrow because it has already happened to the youngsters and the girls.”
With Federer retired, Nadal soon to follow and Djokovic in the final chapters of his career, although still the dominant force, men’s tennis is at the end of an era – these three having shared 65 titles in the Grand Slam.
“Carlos arrived at a perfect time,” Wilander said. “He’s so infectious, he’s the perfect person at the perfect time. But he can’t keep losing to Djokovic in a Grand Slam.”