“Before the match, I thought I can’t beat Novak” – how Carlos Alcaraz changed his own mind with stunning Wimbledon win

He wasn’t sure of his powers heading into the Wimbledon final, but Carlos Alcaraz is now a believer after his stunning victory over Novak Djokovic on Centre Court.

Djokovic and Alcaraz Wimbledon final 2023 | Antoine Couvercelle / Panoramic Djokovic and Alcaraz Wimbledon final 2023 | Antoine Couvercelle / Panoramic

After a disappointing – okay devastating – loss to Novak Djokovic at Roland-Garros, one in which the Spaniard’s body completely let him down, the 20-year-old didn’t think he belonged with Djokovic on the biggest stages of the sport.

A month later, he has changed his mind about what is possible for him as a tennis player.

“Before this match, I thought I can’t beat Novak,” Alcaraz admitted on Sunday after his 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 victory over the 23-time Grand Slam champion. “That’s obvious. But after this epic match I think different about Novak in the way that probably in other tournaments, in other Grand Slams, I will remember this moment.”

Prior to today, Alcaraz’s lone Grand Slam had come at the 2022 US Open, with Djokovic sitting on the sidelines. So it isn’t surprising that Alcaraz wondered if he could make a breakthrough with the Serbian legend staring across the net at him on Wimbledon’s Centre court.

“Probably it change my mind a little bit after this match,” Alcaraz said.

A totally different player after Roland-Garros loss

Alcaraz took a long hard look in the mirror after his defeat at Roland-Garros, and huddled with his team to figure out a way to deal with the nerves and anxiety of a heavily anticipated Grand Slam clash without it affecting his body.

Whatever he and his team did, it worked.

Alcaraz showed no signs of fatigue across the four hour and 42-minute contest that was pressure-packed from start to finish.

“I am totally different player than French Open,” he told reporters. “I grew up a lot since that moment. I learned a lot from that moment.

“As I said before the final, I took lesson from that match. I did something different before the match. I prepared a little bit different mentally before the match. I could deal with the pressure, the nerves, better than I did in French Open.”

Alcaraz Wimbledon 2023 | Alberto Pezzali/AP/SIPA
Alcaraz Wimbledon 2023 | Alberto Pezzali/AP/SIPA

The lesson learned

Asked what Alcaraz, who became the youngest Wimbledon men’s singles champion since 1986, learned about himself during Wimbledon, he harped on the same sentiment.

“That I’m really capable of doing the things that I did today,” he said. “Probably before this match, I thought that I wasn’t ready to beat Djokovic in five sets, an epic match like this.”

With confidence growing by leaps and bounds, Alcaraz promises to be a formidable threat at every major he plays going forward. His peers – and Djokovic – best be ready.

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