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Hometennis'Spanish bull' Carlos Alcaraz is me, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal rolled into...

'Spanish bull' Carlos Alcaraz is me, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal rolled into one: Novak Djokovic

LONDON – Novak Djokovic believes Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz possesses the “best of all three worlds”, cloning the talents of himself, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

World number one Alcaraz defeated Djokovic 1-6, 7-6 (8/6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 in the Wimbledon final on Sunday after four hours and 42 minutes of breathless action on Centre Court.

The result shattered 36-year-old Djokovic’s bid to claim a record-equalling eighth title at the All England Club and 24th Grand Slam crown.

Asked what makes the 20-year-old Alcaraz such a threat, the Serb star explained that he has duplicated his weapons, as well as Federer and Nadal – the storied ‘big three’ of tennis who between them have 65 Grand Slam titles.

“I think he’s got basically best of all three worlds,” said Djokovic.

“People have been talking in the past 12 months or so about his game consisting of certain elements from Roger, Rafa, and myself. I would agree with that.”

Hailing Alcaraz for his “Spanish bull mentality of competitiveness”, Djokovic sees similarities in the renowned fighting spirit and “incredible defence” of Nadal.

Alcaraz’s backhands are straight out of the Djokovic playbook.

“That’s been my personal strength for many years,” he said.

“I haven’t played a player like him ever, to be honest. Roger and Rafa have their own obviously strengths and weaknesses. Carlos is a very complete player.

“Amazing adapting capabilities that I think are a key for longevity and for successful career on all surfaces.”

‘Tough to swallow’

In the immediate aftermath of his loss on Sunday, Djokovic was full of praise for Alcaraz.

Just last month, Djokovic defeated the Spaniard in the French Open semi-finals, with Alcaraz’s challenge undermined by body cramping brought on by the stress of facing his rival.

However, Alcaraz has now beaten Djokovic twice in their three meetings, having first got the better of him on clay at the Madrid Masters last year.

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“What a quality at the end of the match when you had to serve it out,” Djokovic told the champion during the Centre Court trophy ceremony.

“You can up with some big plays in the big situation and you absolutely deserve it.

“It’s a tough one to swallow when you are so close.”

Despite his defeat on Centre Court in 10 years, Djokovic, who had won the previous four Wimbledon titles, insisted he still has the desire to keep on chasing silverware at the majors.

“I’ve been blessed with so many incredible matches throughout my career. I’m really grateful. I lost to a better player and I have to move on stronger,” he said after seeing his 34-match win streak at the tournament ended.

He hailed Alcaraz, who now has two Grand Slam titles following his US Open breakthrough last year, and two titles on grass in just four tournaments on the surface.

“I thought I would have trouble with you only on clay and hard court, but not on grass but now it’s a different story from this year obviously,” said the Serb, who briefly broke down in tears as he addressed the crowd.

“I guess when all the emotions are settled I’ll have to be very grateful. I won many tight and close matches in the past here, to name a few – 2019 against Roger.

“Maybe I should have lost a few finals that I won so maybe this is even stevens.”

The result ended Djokovic’s hopes of attempting the first men’s calendar Grand Slam since 1969, having won the Australian and French Opens this year.

The last man to complete the sweep, Rod Laver, heaped praise on both men.

“Carlos Alcaraz….you certainly found your feet on grass this summer, an astonishing achievement against one of the greatest champions ever,” the Australian tweeted.

“Novak Djokovic. I’m sure there will be many more magnificent battles between you two.” AFP

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