Novak Djokovic fell one win short of a 24th Major title as he suffered a 6-1, 6-7(6), 1-6, 6-3, 4-6 defeat against Carlos Alcaraz in the Wimbledon final on Sunday.
The defeat also ended the 36-year-old Serbian’s 34-match winning streak at The Championships and his bid to clinch a fifth straight and overall eighth title at the grass Major.
Here is a brief analysis of what went wrong for Djokovic in the four hours 42 minutes long summit clash:
Djokovic is arguably the most complete player in men’s tennis. He has a solid serve. He is also capable of neutralising the biggest servers on the tour. However, external variables can disrupt the rhythm of even the best in business.
Sunday’s summit clash was played with the Centre Court roof open and while the wind was not as strong as per the weather warnings issued by the Met Office, it was enough to affect Djokovic. He took a lot of time between serves, even during the first set which he won 6-1, hoping for the wind to stop. It eventually resulted in chair umpire Fergus Murphy giving him a time violation.
As the wind slowed down a bit, it allowed Djokovic to be back in control of things and take the match to a decider by winning the fourth set.
Too many unforced errors
A typical feature of most of the matches featuring Djokovic is his opponents going for the lines in order to beat his strong defensive game which results in a lot of them making unforced errors (UEs). In the final, Alcaraz made 45 of them.
But it is the number against the Serbian’s name which is surprising. Djokovic himself made 40 UEs. In the first six matches, the World No. 2 made a combined total of 118 UEs - an average of roughly one UE per 11 points. That figure came down to one every eight points in the final fixture where the match stats mentioned that Alcaraz had won a total of 168 points to Djokovic’s 166.
After storming through the first set, Djokovic had the opportunity to claim the second in the tiebreaker. The Serbian had won his last 15 tiebreakers at Slams and look destined to keep that streak going. He received a time violation while he was serving at 4-5 but that did not faze him as he won the next two points. With a set point opportunity on the Spaniard’s serve at 6-5, Djokovic made an unforced error - a netted backhand. He repeated the same mistake and ended up facing a set point himself at 6-7. To rub salt in his wounds, Alcaraz converted the chance with a backhand return winner down the line.
Later, in his press conference, Djokovic said, “In the tiebreak in the second, the backhands kind of let me down. At set point, I missed the backhand. A little bit of a bad bounce, but I should not have missed that shot.
“Then 6-6, another backhand from the middle of the court in the net. That’s it. The match shifted to his side and I wasn’t myself for quite some time.”
Alcaraz saved his best serves for the final
As per atptour.com, Alcaraz upped his average speeds for the first and second serve in the final when compared to his first six matches. Coming into the final, his fastest average first serve speed was 119.8mph which he achieved during his second-round match against Alexandre Muller. Against Djokovic, he managed to increase the same to 121.3mph.
Djokovic hardly misses capitalising on the second serve of his opponents. Keeping that in mind, the Spaniard, who had the fastest average second serve pace of 101.8mph during his third-round clash against Nicolas Jarry, amped it up to 102.5mph in the summit clash.
He also made 24 body serves as compared to Djokovic’s eight, thus forcing the Serbian to defend another area other than the T and wide serves.
It was Djokovic’s first loss on Centre Court in 10 years and nine days. On Sunday, the Serb’s almost annual affair of eating the hallowed grass in celebration wasn’t to be.
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