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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday July 16, 2023

After a devastating loss to Novak Djokovic at Roland-Garros, one in which Carlos Alcaraz couldn’t deliver his best tennis as his body let him down after just two sets of his 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 6-1 defeat at the hands of the 23-time Grand Slam champion, the Spaniard took a hard look in the mirror and emerged a more resilient player.

Tennis Express

Even on Sunday morning, as he prepared to face Djokovic in the Wimbledon final, Alcaraz wasn’t sure that he could take down the man who has dominated Wimbledon’s Centre Court like no other in the last decade.

“Before this match, I thought I can't beat Novak,” Alcaraz admitted in his post-match press conference. “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.

“I will think that I'm ready to play five sets against him, good rallies, good sets, really long, long matches, and stay there physically, mentally, in tennis, in general – probably it change my mind a little bit after this match.”

Gone are the days when Alcaraz doesn’t believe he matches up with Grand Slam juggernaut Djokovic at the Slams. He produced eye-opening tennis in the second-set tiebreak (snapping Djokovic's streak of 15 Grand Slam tiebreaks won), then raised his level again in a 27-minute marathon game in the third set.

Finally, bolstered by confidence accrued, Alcaraz put on a show in the fifth set to produce an epic victory.

Alcaraz was convincing under pressure, playing with the clarity and courage of a veteran as he took the play to Djokovic to become the first man to defeat Djokovic in a five-set Grand Slam final since Andy Murray at the 2012 US Open.

What did the 20-year-old learn from the experience?

“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. To stay good physically or good mentally about five hours against a legend.”

Alcaraz says he approached this final differently than the pair’s Roland-Garros semifinal. In Paris learned the hard way about the effect that nerves and anxiety can have on his performance, and made sure he was able to stand up to the pressure, both mentally and physically.

“I am totally different player than French Open,” he said. “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.”

Now his confidence should only grow, after one of the most impressive victories ever notched by a player against his age – against an absolute legend, in his prime.

“Beating Novak at his best, in this stage, making history, being the guy to beat him after 10 years unbeaten on that court, is amazing for me,” he said. “It's something that I will never forget, that's for sure. As I said, it's great for the new generation, as well, I think to see me beating him and making them think that they are capable to do it, as well.

“It's great for me and I think for the young players, as well.”