The king is dead. Long live the king.

This morning, Novak Djokovic of Serbia (right) woke up and got out of bed as the seven-time men's singles champion at the Wimbledon tennis tournament, including being the winner there the last four years in a row.

Tomorrow morning, he will wake up and gets out of bed still as the seven-time men's singles champion at the Wimbledon tennis tournament, and the most recent second-place finisher.

Carlos Alcaraz, the Spanish man child, defeated Djokovic in five sets that went more than four and a half hours this afternoon and evening. It was Alcaraz's second major title, his first "Grand Slam" win having come last year in New York.

Expectations were running super-high for this Wimbledon final. Having seen Alcaraz and Djokovic put on an unforgettable show a month ago in the French Open semifinals before Alcaraz caved in to cramps caused by nerves, the world knew that those two would meet up again in the ultimate match in England, and that it would be an absolute barn-burner.

The Spaniard, 16 years younger than his opponent, came out swinging wildly, going for the kill shot with every stroke, and he failed miserably in the first set, 6 to 1. But then he did the unthinkable, settling down and beating Novak in a tiebreaker, 8 to 6. When it comes to tiebreakers, the Djoker is next to unbeatable; he goes into what the commentators call "lockdown mode." But Carlitos fought his way through it, and to me, that was the turning point.

Alcaraz prevailed in a third set that went on for an eternity. One game lasted 27 minutes. The ESPN guy Chris Fowler said, and he was right, "If you watch tennis forever, you'll never see anything like this again." Back and forth they traded blows, like prizefighters. But when the dust settled, the score in that set was 6 to 1 for the Spaniard. 

The defending champ went to the bathroom, spoke to himself in the mirror, and came out a changed man. He evened the match in a fiery fourth set in which he lost his cool at one point and whacked a net post with his racquet, leaving a mark and drawing a stern warning. With Djokovic winning that fourth, it all came down to a single deciding set, in which Alcaraz earned a break and never looked back. The final scores were 1-6, 7-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4.

Even the best tennis writers out there will be unable to convey how intense the match was. In the end, I believe Alcaraz won just two or three more points than Djokovic overall – points, mind you, not games. There were sometihng like 330 points played.

From where I sat, eating buttered Trader Joe's crumpets in honor of the occasion, the raw talent was evenly matched, but Alcaraz at age 20 was just a little bit fitter and more energetic that Djokovic at age 36. Father Time is undefeated; that was the difference. The Serb had won 45 consecutive matches on Centre Court at Wimbledon, but sooner or later a run like that had to end.

They played with the roof open, allowing the wind to be a factor, which to me made it an even more interesting contest. The crowd was as packed as ever with the rich and famous, including not only royals William, Kate, Charlotte, and George from jolly old England, but also King Felipe of Spain, whose player won. It was a great day on which to end the annual London spectacle.

The thing I like most about Alcaraz is how much he loves what he's doing. Every once in a while something happens on the court that causes him to break out into one of the most infectious smiles in the entire entertainment world. He was extremely uptight to start today's match, but there in the second set, an incredible exchange of superb shots between him and Novak brought out that big grin, and the rest is history.

We get some time off now as the pro tennis tour transitions from grass (they'll play on the lawn at Newport, R.I. next) to hard courts, with all roads leading to the big windup in Flushing, Queens at the U.S. Open around Labor Day.

Now the grass at Wimbledon gets 50 weeks to recover, and then they'll do it all again, Lord willing. I should go to that tournament one of these years. Next year it starts on July 1. Maybe a GoFundMe is in order. And there's always Powerball, I suppose, heh.


  1. The 27 minute game was remarkable, and a stunning match overall. Best of luck making the pageant someday.

  2. Nice write up, Jack. I started watching in the second set and was mesmerized. Great match. The 27-minute game added to the intrigue. Truth is, they were both playing so well, I wanted a repeat of the Isner-Mahut match. It'd've made great TV for three days.


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