Final thoughts: Can Carlos Alcaraz end Novak Djokovic’s Wimbledon run?

Novak Djokovic reacts after beating Italy's Jannik Sinner in a Wimbledon men's singles semifinal match Friday.
(Alastair Grant / Associated Press)

This was the moment. If Novak Djokovic was going to be stopped in the Wimbledon semifinals, if his much younger and harder-hitting opponent, Jannik Sinner, was going to turn things around Friday, the monumental comeback required would need to start immediately.

Djokovic knew it. Sinner knew it. The 15,000 or so Centre Court spectators knew it.

After taking the first two sets, Djokovic trailed 5-4 in the third, and a flubbed forehand made the game score 15-40 as he served. Two chances for Sinner to finally break. Two chances for him to actually take a set. Djokovic hit a fault, which drew some sounds of approval from the stands. Djokovic sarcastically used his racket and the ball to applaud the noise-makers, then flashed a thumbs up.

Players representing 29 countries took part in the Homeless World Cup, a tournament that aims to raise awareness about people who are homeless or refugees.

July 14, 2023

He can back up any such bravado. Djokovic simply does not lose at the All England Club lately. Or at any Grand Slam tournament, for that matter. So he calmly collected the next four points to claim that game, looked toward the crowd and mockingly pretended to wipe away a tear.


Twenty minutes later, the match was over, and the 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) victory over Sinner allowed Djokovic to close in on a record-tying eighth title at Wimbledon and fifth in a row.

“The third set could have gone his way,” said Djokovic, who will meet No. 1-ranked Carlos Alcaraz for the trophy Sunday. “It was really, really, just a lot of pressure.”

Carlos Alcaraz celebrates after beating Russia's Daniil Medvedev in a Wimbledon men's singles semifinal match Friday.
(Alastair Grant / Associated Press)

Alcaraz showed off every bit of his many talents, including winning 17 of 20 points Friday when he serve-and-volleyed, while beating No. 3 Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to make his way to his first final at the grass-court major tournament.

While Djokovic, a 36-year-old from Serbia, is pursuing a 24th Grand Slam singles championship, Alcaraz, a 20-year-old from Spain, seeks his second after winning the U.S. Open last September.

Djokovic repeatedly served himself out of potential trouble, saving all six break points he faced, to reach his ninth final at the All England Club. It’s also his 35th final at all Grand Slam tournaments, more than any man or woman in tennis history.

Djokovic got major title No. 22 at the Australian Open in January, and No. 23 at the French Open in June — his Wimbledon shoes have a small “23” stamped on the side — after getting past Alcaraz in the semifinals at Roland Garros.

If Djokovic wins Sunday, he will head to the U.S. Open in August with a chance at the first calendar-year Grand Slam by a man since Rod Laver in 1969.