Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button
NewsScoresRankingsLucky Letcord PodcastShopPro GearPickleballGear Sale

By Richard Pagliaro | Saturday, July 15, 2023


A generational clash for the ages pits 36-year-old defending champion Novak Djokovic vs. 20-year-old Spanish superstar Carlos Alcaraz. Our Wimbledon final preview.

Photo credit: Sebastien Bozon AFP for Getty

Wimbledon— A generation gap shrinks to the size of the net in the Wimbledon men’s final.

Sixteen years separate defending Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic from 20-year-old Spanish phenom Carlos Alcaraz.

Djokovic on Alcaraz: Greatest Challenge

Two all-court champions whose combined court coverage is so comprehensive they seem to operate on an internal GPS can turn the iconic Centre Court lawn into a shotmaker’s paradise in their third encounter and first on grass.

A driven Djokovic racks up records the way regular players accrue grass stains on their all-white clothes as he joins Ken Rosewall and Roger Federer as the third man over 36 years of age to play for the Gentlemen's Singles Trophy.

It is the 51st meeting between the top two men’s seeds in a major final in the Open Era and the winner will walk away with the world No. 1 ranking—and the £2,350,000 (about $3 million) champion’s check.

Here’s our Wimbledon men’s final preview.

(1) Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) vs. (2) Novak Djokovic (SRB)

Head-to-Head: Even 1-1

2023 Record: Alcaraz 46-4; Djokovic 33-4

Best Wimbledon Result: Alcaraz 2023 final; Djokovic 7-time champion (2011, 2014, 2015, 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022)

Career Grass Record: Alcaraz 15-2; Djokovic 115-18

Career Wimbledon Record: Alcaraz 10-2; Djokovic 92-10

Career Finals Record: Alcaraz 11-3; Djokovic 94-39

Career Slam Final Record: Alcaraz 8-1; Djokovic 23-11

Career Five-Set Record: Alcaraz ; Djokovic 37-10

Carlos Alcaraz on Novak Djokovic: “He has no weakness. He's really complete guy, really complete player. He's amazing. He does nothing wrong on the court. Physically he's a beast. Mentally he's a beast. Everything is unbelievable for him. I think it's a mix of everything that I admire [about] him the most.”

Novak Djokovic on Carlos Alcaraz: “He's one of the quickest guys on the tour. He can do pretty much anything on the court. I consider myself also very complete player…He's in great shape. He's very motivated. He's young. He's hungry. I'm hungry, too, so let's have a feast.”

What’s at Stake

Contesting his record 35th Grand Slam final, Novak Djokovic is playing for his eighth Wimbledon crown, which would equal Roger Federer’s record, and a 24th Grand Slam championship, which would match Margaret Court’s all-time record.

The 20-year-old Alcaraz competes for his first Wimbledon title—and to become just the third Spanish man in history to win The Championships after the Manolo Santana in 1966 and Rafael Nadal in 2008 and 2010.

The winner will cash a champion’s check of £2.35 million, which is about $3 million. The runner-up collects a  £1,175,000 check. In total, the prize money for the men’s singles event at 2023 Wimbledon is £16,077,000.

Keys to the Wimbledon Final

Djokovic Experience vs. Alcaraz Explosiveness

The 16-year age disparity between the 36-year-old Serbian superstar and the 20-year-old Spaniard is a massive gap.

Experience is a dramatic difference here as well. Djokovic has won 115 grass-court matches, while Alcaraz has played only 17 grass matches in his life.

The seven-time Wimbledon winner downplayed the experience edge a bit saying he believes it will be a factor at the outset but not a decisive factor in the match.

“Experience, yeah, could help a little bit I think maybe in some important moments, beginning the match, managing the nerves, managing the occasion, circumstances,” Djokovic said after sweeping Jannik Sinner in the semifinals. “Yeah, that's where experience could play a role.

"But it's not going to be the deciding factor really. It's not going to affect that much on the game itself. So whoever on a given day is in a better state, I mean, mentally and physically, will be the winner.”

We’ve seen Djokovic apply his experience rallying from two-sets down last year to defeat Sinner in the quarterfinals and coming back from a set down to knock off Nick Kyrgios in the 2022 final.

The question is: What will Alcaraz learn from the painful Paris experience where his legs locked up from nerves and Djokovic—and the magnitude of the moment—caused him to cramp?

How will Alcaraz cope with the severe stress of his first Wimbledon final in what may well be the most viewed match of the season with an anticipated audience of over 1.2 billion worldwide?

Alcaraz says working through his mental game with coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, consulting with the sport psychologist he’s been seeing since 2020 and learning from the pressure-induced cramping at Roland Garros will help him in this rematch.

“The mental part I will do something different, to stay calm, to show that I'm not nervous,” Alcaraz said. “Some exercise in the mental part. I don't know what I'm going to do, but I'll do some exercise to stay calm and to forget - or I'll try to forget that I'm going to play a final against Novak.”

Though Alcaraz grew up on clay, you can make a case his explosiveness and point-ending power should play better on grass in this rematch.

After all, it’s hard to hit through the unerring Djokovic on dirt—it’s hard to hit through him on grass, too as Sinner learned again yesterday—but Alcaraz’s attacking game and versatility gives him diverse dimensions Sinner does not own. Alcaraz won 28 of 36 trips to net against Medvedev, who typically plays deeper in the court than Djokovic.

The Spaniard will need to play proactive tennis and use the entire court to disrupt Djokovic, a sniper on the return and a precise passing shot artist.

Alcaraz Return vs. Djokovic Serve

The top seed has terrorized opponents’ serves and will try to make the second seed feel the wrath of his return game.

Alcaraz leads Wimbledon in break points won (26) and is third behind Sinner and Djokovic in second-serve return points won.

To understand how devastating the Spaniard's return game can be, look what Alcaraz did do a supreme server in Medvedev. He decimated the 6’6” Russian’s serve. Alcaraz converted six of 14 break points and won 20 of 33 points played on Medvedev’s second serve despite the fact the 2021 US Open champion cranked some second serves 100 mph or more.

“He was putting pressure. I was doing some second serves 100 miles per hour,” Medvedev said. “Pretty decent second serves. He was crushing them.”

Factor in Alcaraz has already beaten big servers Nicolas Jarry and Matteo Berrettini and that should prepare him for Djokovic’s delivery.

Across the net, the Serbian’s serve may well be the most underrated weapon in his game.

Djokovic is so accurate he can dot all areas of the box and has used the body serve effectively throughout the tournament as well.

Knowing Alcaraz can rip returns down the line to blow open points, Djokovic will be intent on establishing the first serve.

Facing the 6’3” Sinner, who is rangier and owns a longer reach than the 6’ Alcaraz, Djokovic smacked 11 aces against no double faults and denied all six break points he faced—and said afterward his serve was “up and down.”

If Djokovic can continue to serve with the command he has shown and push Alcaraz into the perimeter to return, he will fire the first strike and force the Spaniard to defend.

Streak Show

The Wimbledon final is a clash of the world’s Top 2 and a streak showdown.

The second-seeded Djokovic has won 27 straight major matches, 34 consecutive grass-court matches and owns an astounding 45 wins in a row on the iconic Centre Court. In a decade of dominance, Djokovic has not lost on Centre Court since bowing to British No. 1 Andy Murray 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in the 2013 final.

Queen's Club champion Alcaraz has won 11 matches in a row on London's grass.

Tiebreak Titan

Beating Novak Djokovic in a Grand Slam tiebreaker is as easy as leaping the Fred Perry statue on the grounds in a single bound.

Djokovic has won 15 consecutive Grand Slam tiebreakers and his skill managing pressure points could well be a key component to his title defense and hunt for history.

Can Alcaraz, who seems to relish risk, rise to the occasion if the pair play tiebreakers tomorrow?

Alcaraz has won two of the three tiebreakers he’s played in this fortnight, crucially pulling out a 7-6(3) tiebreaker win in the opening set of his quarterfinal sweep of Holger Rune and erupting in a primal scream of celebration.

Why Carlos Alcaraz Will Win

Adaptability, versatility and explosiveness are among the primary reasons Alcaraz will win on Sunday.

A fearless Alcaraz won’t play this final on hope.

The world No. 1 will take the court knowing he can win because he already has.

If you saw Alcaraz outduel Djokovic in a classic three hour, 33-minute Madrid final last year, you know the Spaniard won't shrink when stress spikes. In fact, Alcaraz, unlike so many who have falledn to Djokovic, often takes more risk when he's down deploying his dastardly dropper and the serve-and-volley play at times.

Unlike so many others Djokovic has vanquished at Wimbledon, Alcaraz is not afraid of net and is actually a fantastic front-court players. Alcaraz will not permit Djokovic to defend and reset the point. The speedy Spaniard will try to come in at times, close off the angle and finish at net when he stretches the Serbian.

Alcaraz can vaporize the forehand and will take his cracks to back Djokovic up. Alcaraz owns the all-court acumen to trouble Djokovic from any position on court. Look for him to try to drop shot Djokovic, force him forward, lob him and try to drag Djokovic away from the security of the baseline. Both men have an outstanding first step, can burst on the ball and close with speed but Alcaraz can deny Djokovic the baseline rhythm he craves and must do that on occasion to win.

The most gifted all-court player of his generation owns the weapons and variety to defeat Djokovic. If he holds his nerve, applies all of his wondrous weapons at the right time, he will prevail.

Why Novak Djokovic Will Win

Put the GOAT on this iconic lawn and watch him chew up opponents.

We can talk tactics, statistics, possibility and pressure all day long.

It doesn’t take a sporting savant to figure this one out.

Djokovic will win because he doesn’t lose on Centre Court.

At the risk of redundancy: Djokovic has not lost on Centre Court in a decade—and even when you push him into pressure points he’s won 15 consecutive Grand Slam tiebreakers.

The serve and return are the most important shots in the sport. Djokovic is exceptional in both areas.

Djokovic has drilled 66 aces in six victories, he’s winning 82 percent of his first-serve points, 62 percent of his second-serve points and he’s been the second-best player in the tournament—behind Jannik Sinner—in second-serve return points won.

Feed Djokovic a second serve on grass and get ready to run or fend off a body blow from one of his deep returns right down the middle that dance in the funk factory of worn out baseline.

The seven-time champion will prevail because he’s not only a complete player he’s a shrewd problem solver, who absorbs all of the subtleties in a match and answers.

For instance, Djokovic knows when you force Alcaraz to hit the running forehand on the stretch he’s much more comfortable cracking it crosscourt then playing down the line over the high part of the net.

A driven Djokovic is playing for something even greater than Wimbledon: The calendar Grand Slam. He will take another major step toward that goal and capture his record eighth Wimbledon championship.


Latest News