Watch: Novak Djokovic meets Carlos Alcaraz on Wimbledon Centre Court

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz are among three Wimbledon favorites

by Jovica Ilic
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Watch: Novak Djokovic meets Carlos Alcaraz on Wimbledon Centre Court
© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Last year's Wimbledon finalists, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz, met on Centre Court on Thursday. Alcaraz finished his practice session with Daniil Medvedev before Djokovic stepped in for his training. Two great friends and rivals exchanged a couple of words before Carlos left the court and Novak kicked off his practice run with world no. 1 Jannik Sinner. Djokovic will be the 2nd seed at Wimbledon ahead of Alcaraz, passing the young Spaniard who could not defend the title at Queen's. Carlos secured his third Major title at Roland Garros a couple of weeks ago, becoming the youngest player with a Major trophy on all three surfaces! Alcaraz took a couple of days off and wished for another good run at Queen's. However, he fell to an in-form Jack Draper 7-6, 6-3 in an hour and 39 minutes in the second round, heading to Wimbledon and seeking the title defense.

Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon 2024
Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport
 

Fresh after his first ATP title in Stuttgart, Draper took down a three-time Major champion in style, pushing strong on serve and return. Jack defended the only break point offered to Carlos and converted one out of four break chances to seal the deal in straight sets. The Spaniard survived a couple of deuces in the opening set and reached a tie break. The Briton forged an early advantage with two mini-breaks and claimed it 7-3 for a boost. Carlos struggled on serve in the second part of the second set, suffering a break in the sixth game and finding himself 5-2 behind after wasting a break point in the next one. The Spaniard served to stay in the match in the eighth game and embraced another shaky service game. Alcaraz denied three match points before Draper sealed the deal on his serve in the next one. Unlike Alcaraz, Djokovic is yet to show his A-game this season, failing to repeat his stellar run from 2023.

Novak Djokovic & Jannik Sinner, Wimbledon 2024
Novak Djokovic & Jannik Sinner, Wimbledon 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport
 

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz played in last year's Wimbledon final.

The 24-time Major winner lost the Australian Open semi-final to Jannik Sinner and withdrew from Roland Garros ahead of the quarter-final, losing the title and the ATP throne. Novak took down Lorenzo Musetti and Francisco Cerundolo in five sets after a massive battle on Court Philippe-Chatrier. The veteran did not like the conditions on the court, slipping a couple of times against Cerundolo and feeling the pain in his right knee. Not risking anything, Djokovic withdrew and underwent a procedure the next day, starting his recovery and hoping to get back at 100% by Wimbledon. Carlos and Novak were the players to beat at the All England Club a year ago, passing six rivals and arranging the title clash, their first in a Major final. The young gun ousted the seven-time winner 1-6, 7-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in four hours and 42 minutes, claiming his second Major title at 20!

Carlos Alcaraz, Wimbledon 2023
Carlos Alcaraz, Wimbledon 2023© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport
 

Alcaraz delivered Djokovic's third loss in the previous 14 Major finals and became the third-youngest Wimbledon winner in the Open era after Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg. Two rivals gave their best in challenging windy conditions, with a one-sided set on each side and a solid battle in the remaining three. We saw 34 break points and five return games on each side. Carlos recovered after losing the fourth set, securing an early break in the decider and bringing the victory home. The more experienced player made a stronger start, winning the opening set 6-1 in 34 minutes. Carlos raised his level in the second set and followed Novak's pace en route to a tie break. The Spaniard denied a set point that could have pushed him miles behind, stealing the breaker after the Serb's loose backhands and locking the overall score after two hours. Thus, Novak lost a tie break at Majors after claiming 15 in a row, losing ground and struggling in set number three.

Carlos Alcaraz & Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon 2023
Carlos Alcaraz & Novak Djokovic, Wimbledon 2023© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport
 

Alcaraz broke Djokovic three times, clinching the set 6-1 after an epic fifth game and moving closer to the finish line. They battled for 27 minutes, making it the most extended game in the Wimbledon finals! Carlos clinched the seventh break point for a 4-1 lead and closed the set with another return game on his tally two games later. Novak took an extended break ahead of the fourth set and saved two break points in the second game, ending his downfall and raising the level. Djokovic clinched breaks in games five and nine, forcing a decider and gaining a boost. They squandered break points at the beginning of the set before Alcaraz stepped in in game three and landed a backhand down the line winner that pushed him in front. They served well in the upcoming games, and the Spaniard served for the title at 5-4. Carlos kept his nerves under control and produced a hold at 30 after a forced error, celebrating his first Wimbledon title at 20.

Novak Djokovic Carlos Alcaraz Centre Court
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